Too tired to take offense: When depletion promotes forgiveness

Sarah C.E. Stanton*, Eli J. Finkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Although self-regulatory depletion has a broad range of adverse consequences, recent research has established that it can yield prosocial outcomes under certain circumstances. The present experiment examined the interaction between depletion and offense severity on forgiveness of romantic offenses. Consistent with prior research, results revealed that depleted (vs. non-depleted) individuals were less forgiving of severe offenses. In a counterintuitive reversal, however, depleted (vs. non-depleted) individuals were more forgiving of mild offenses. This crossover interaction effect was mediated by perception of offense severity, suggesting that depleted individuals may be especially forgiving of mild offenses because they are simply too tired to take offense at their partner's bad behavior. These findings identify one important instance in which depletion can promote salutary relationship processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-590
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Ego depletion
  • Forgiveness
  • Romantic relationships
  • Self-regulation


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