Revenge and forgiveness: Two sides of the same coin?

Darlene Pinho Fernandes de Moura, Sophia Lóren de Holanda Sousa, Isabele Negreiros de Queiroz Pereira, Mariana Gonçalves Farias, Quésia Fernandes Cataldo, Walberto Silva dos Santos


The desire to punish someone who has caused suffering is characterized by revenge. However, it is
possible for someone to present pro-social changes in relation to the offender, which constitutes
forgiveness. Studies point out that forgiveness and revenge can be understood in the opposite way
and also share a common dimension. In this sense, this study aimed to compare the adjustment of a
two-factor model for forgiveness and revenge with alternative explanations of one-factor and twofactor
models. 195 people participated, the majority female (66.7%), heterosexual (83.2%), single (80.8%), with incomplete higher education (68.4%) and with ages between 18 and 82 years (M=27.26; SD=11.50), who responded to the Willingness to Forgive Scale and the Vengeance Scale. The results showed that the two-factor model was more appropriate [χ2(102)=175.639, p<0.001; χ2/gl=1.54, SRMR=0.06, CFI=0.94, RMSEA=0.061 (CI90%=0.04-0.07), TLI=0.93]. The results found suggest that, in addition to sharing a common factor, the variables seem to have legitimacy as distinct constructs, providing empirical support for the promotion of strategies aimed at intervening in both general and specific elements related to the constructs.


Revenge, Forgiveness, Bifactor.


Antonucci, T. C., Ajrouch, K. J., Webster, N. J., & Birditt, K. S. (2018). Social Networks and Forgiveness: The Role of Trust and Efficacy. Research in Human Development, 15(1), 3-20.

Akhtar, S., & Barlow, J. (2016). Forgiveness therapy for the promotion of wellbeing: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19(1), 107-122.

Barber, L., Maltby, J., & Macaskill, A. (2005). Angry memories and thoughts of revenge: The relationship between forgiveness and anger rumination. Personality and Individual Differences, 39(2), 253-262.

Brown, M. J., Serovich, J. M., & Kimberly, J. A. (2018). Vengeance, sexual compulsivity and self-efficacy among men who have sex with men living with HIV. AIDS care, 30(3), 325-329.

Brown, R. P. (2003). Measuring individual differences in the tendency to forgive: Construct validity and links with depression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(6), 759-771.

Brown, R. P. (2004). Vengeance is mine: Narcissism, vengeance, and the tendency to forgive. Journal of Research in Personality, 38(6), 576-584.

Burnette, J. L., Davisson, E. K., Finkel, E. J., Van Tongeren, D. R., Hui, C. M., & Hoyle, R. H. (2014). Self-control and forgiveness: A meta-analytic review. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 5(4), 443-450.

Burris, A. (2014). Hell hath no fury like a woman Porned: Revenge porn and the need for a federal nonconsensual pornography statute. Fla. L. Rev., 66, 2325. Recuperado de

Byrne, B. M. (2001). Structural equation modeling: Perspectives on the present and the future. International Journal of Testing, 1(3-4), 327-334.

Chen, F. F., Hayes, A., Carver, C. S., Laurenceau, J. P., & Zhang, Z. (2012). Modeling general and specific variance in multifaceted constructs: A comparison of the bifactor model to other approaches. Journal of personality, 80(1), 219-251.

Chester, D. S., & DeWall, C. N. (2015). The pleasure of revenge: retaliatory aggression arises from a neural imbalance toward reward. Social cognitive and affective neuroscience, 11(7), 1173-1182.

Chester, D. S., & DeWall, C. N. (2017). Personality correlates of revenge‐seeking: Multidimensional links to physical aggression, impulsivity, and aggressive pleasure. Aggressive behavior, 44(3), 235-245.

Coelho, G. L., Monteiro, R. P., Hanel, P. H., Vilar, R., Gouveia, V. V., & Maio, G. R. (2018). Psychometric parameters of an abbreviated vengeance scale across two countries. Personality and Individual Differences, 120, 185-192.

Cota‐McKinley, A. L., Woody, W. D., & Bell, P. A. (2001). Vengeance: Effects of gender, age, and religious background. Aggressive Behavior, 27(5), 343-350.

DeShea, L. A. (2003). Scenario-based scale of willingness to forgive. Individual Differences Research, 1(3), 201-217.

Enright, R. D., Gassin, E. A., & Wu, C. R. (1992). Forgiveness: A developmental view. Journal of Moral Education, 21(2), 99-114.

Fatfouta, R., Gerlach, T. M., Schröder-Abé, M., & Merkl, A. (2015). Narcissism and lack of interpersonal forgiveness: The mediating role of state anger, state rumination, and state empathy. Personality and Individual Differences, 75, 36-40.

Giammarco, E. A., & Vernon, P. A. (2014). Vengeance and the Dark Triad: The role of empathy and perspective taking in trait forgivingness. Personality and Individual Differences, 67, 23-29.

Goldring, J., & Strelan, P. (2017). The forgiveness implicit association test. Personality and Individual Differences, 108, 69-78.

Gollwitzer, M., & Denzler, M. (2009). What makes revenge sweet: Seeing the offender suffer or delivering a message?. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(4), 840-844.

Gouveia, V. V., Costa, J. M., de Araújo, L. B. U., Gouveia, R. S. V., de Medeiros, E. D., & Gonçalves, M. P. (2009). Disposição para perdoar, desejabilidade social e religião: um estudo correlacional. Revista Bioética, 17(2), 297-308. Recuperado de

Gouveia, V. V., Freires, L. A., Gouveia, R. S. V., de Souza Filho, J. F., de Souza, R. V. L., & Monteiro, R. P. (2015). Escala de disposição para perdoar: estrutura, consistência interna e invariância fatorial. Estudos de Psicologia, 32(2), 151-161.

Griffin, B. J., Worthington Jr, E. L., Lavelock, C. R., Greer, C. L., Lin, Y., Davis, D. E., & Hook, J. N. (2015). Efficacy of a self-forgiveness workbook: A randomized controlled trial with interpersonal offenders. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 62(2), 124-136.

Karremans, J. C., & Smith, P. K. (2010). Having the power to forgive: When the experience of power increases interpersonal forgiveness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(8), 1010-1023.

Kato, T. (2016). Effects of partner forgiveness on romantic break-ups in dating relationships: A longitudinal study. Personality and Individual Differences, 95, 185-189.

Lawler-Row, K. A., Karremans, J. C., Scott, C., Edlis-Matityahou, M., & Edwards, L. (2008). Forgiveness, physiological reactivity and health: The role of anger. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 68(1), 51-58.

Lin, W. F., Mack, D., Enright, R. D., Krahn, D., & Baskin, T. W. (2004). Effects of forgiveness therapy on anger, mood, and vulnerability to substance use among inpatient substance-dependent clients. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 72(6), 1114-1121.

McCullough, M. E., Root, L. M., & Cohen, A. D. (2006). Writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression facilitates forgiveness. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(5), 887–897.

McCullough, M. E., Bellah, C. G., Kilpatrick, S. D., & Johnson, J. L. (2001). Vengefulness: Relationships with forgiveness, rumination, well-being, and the Big Five. Personality and social psychology bulletin, 27(5), 601-610.

McCullough, M. E., Fincham, F. D., & Tsang, J. A. (2003). Forgiveness, forbearance, and time: the temporal unfolding of transgression-related interpersonal motivations. Journal of personality and social psychology, 84(3), 540-557.

McCullough, M. E., Kurzban, R., & Tabak, B. A. (2013). Putting revenge and forgiveness in an evolutionary context. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(1), 41-58.

McCullough, M. E., Worthington Jr, E. L., & Rachal, K. C. (1997). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology, 73(2), 321-336.

Menezes, A. P. L. F. (2009). A propensão para o perdão na pessoa idosa. (Dissertação de mestrado, Universidade do Porto, Porto). Recuperado de

Pina, A., Holland, J., & James, M. (2017). The malevolent side of revenge porn proclivity: dark personality traits and sexist ideology. International Journal of Technoethics), 8(1), 30-43.

Reed, G. L., & Enright, R. D. (2006). The effects of forgiveness therapy on depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress for women after spousal emotional abuse. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 74(5), 920-929.

Reise, S. P., Bonifay, W. E., & Haviland, M. G. (2013). Scoring and modeling psychological measures in the presence of multidimensionality. Journal of Personality Assessment, 95(2), 129-140.

Reise, S. P., Scheines, R., Widaman, K. F., & Haviland, M. G. (2013). Multidimensionality and structural coefficient bias in structural equation modeling: A bifactor perspective. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 73(1), 5-26.

Ribeiro, G. C., Butori, R., & Le Nagard, E. (2018). The determinants of approval of online consumer revenge. Journal of Business Research, 88, 212-221.

Rodriguez, A., Reise, S. P., & Haviland, M. G. (2016). Evaluating bifactor models: Calculating and interpreting statistical indices. Psychological Methods, 21(2), 137-150.

Şantaş, G., Uğurluoğlu, Ö., Özer, Ö., & Demir, A. (2018). Do Gossip Functions Effect on Organizational Revenge and Job Stress Among Health Personnel?. Journal of Health Management, 20(1), 64-72.

Satici, S. A., Uysal, R., & Akin, A. (2014). Forgiveness and vengeance: The mediating role of gratitude. Psychological Reports, 114(1), 157-168.

Scull, N. C. (2015). Forgiveness, revenge, and adherence to Islam as moderators for psychological wellbeing and depression among survivors of the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 9(1), 41-64.

Stillwell, A. M., Baumeister, R. F., & Del Priore, R. E. (2008). We're all victims here: Toward a psychology of revenge. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 30(3), 253-263.

Stuckless, N., & Goranson, R. (1992). The vengeance scale: Development of a measure of attitudes toward revenge. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 7(1), 25-42.

Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Computer-assisted research design and analysis (Vol. 748). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Thompson, L. Y., Snyder, C. R., Hoffman, L., Michael, S. T., Rasmussen, H. N., Billings, L. S., ... & Roberts, D. E. (2005). Dispositional forgiveness of self, others, and situations. Journal of personality, 73(2), 313-360.

Van der Wal, R. C., Karremans, J. C., & Cillessen, A. H. (2016). Interpersonal forgiveness and psychological well-being in late childhood. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 62(1), 1-21.

Van Tongeren, D. R., Green, J. D., Hook, J. N., Davis, D. E., Davis, J. L., & Ramos, M. (2015). Forgiveness increases meaning in life. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6(1), 47-55.

Vossekuil, B., Fein, R. A., Reddy, M., Borum, R., & Modzeleski, W. (2002). The final report and findings of the Safe School Initiative. Washington, DC: US Secret Service and Department of Education.

Wade, N. G., & Worthington Jr, E. L. (2005). In search of a common core: A content analysis of interventions to promote forgiveness. Psychotherapy: Theory, research, practice, training, 42(2), 160-177.

Wade, N. G., & Worthington, E. L. (2003). Overcoming interpersonal offenses: Is forgiveness the only way to deal with unforgiveness?. Journal of Counseling & Development, 81(3), 343-353.

Ysseldyk, R., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2007). Rumination: Bridging a gap between forgivingness, vengefulness, and psychological health. Personality and individual differences, 42(8), 1573-1584.

Ysseldyk, R., Matheson, K., & Anisman, H. (2017). Revenge is sour, but is forgiveness sweet? Psychological health and cortisol reactivity among women with experiences of abuse. Journal of Health Psychology, 00(0), 1-19.

Zeoli, A. M., Grady, S., Pizarro, J. M., & Melde, C. (2015). Modeling the movement of homicide by type to inform public health prevention efforts. American journal of public health, 105(10), 2035-2041.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Nº ERC: 107494 | ISSN (in print): 0870-8231 | ISSN (online): 1646-6020 | Copyright © ISPA - CRL, 2012 | Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 34, 1149-041 Lisboa | NIF: 501313672 | The portal and metadata are licensed under the license Creative Commons CC BY-NC