Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Rudd, Jill E.

Subject Headings

Forgiveness, Interpersonal communication, Attachment behavior, Communicating forgiveness, Forgiveness, Adult siblings, Siblings, Attachment theory, Attachment styles, Relational satisfaction, Relational maintenance behaviors


The purpose of this study was to examine the role of communicating forgiveness within adult sibling relationships. Specifically, this study investigated the relationship between seeking forgiveness and attachment style, the relational outcomes of forgiveness, and forgiveness as a relational maintenance strategy. A total of 172 participants were surveyed in order to acquire as many participants as possible with adult siblings. Forgiveness seeking communication was represented by Kelley's (1998) typology of forgiveness tactics which included explicit acknowledgment, indirect tactics, and compensational-conditional tactics. In addition to Kelley's typology, a choice of "do nothing" was included to enable participants to express no forgiveness seeking tactic. Generally, the findings indicated that a significant relationship emerged between secure attachment style and the communication forgiveness tactics. The more positive individuals' attitude toward forgiveness the more relational satisfaction they experience in their adult sibling relationship. Furthermore, results indicated that individuals who use more positive relational maintenance strategies in their adult sibling relationships are more likely to use one of the three communication forgiveness message types of explicit acknowledgment, indirect tactics, and/or compensational-conditional tactics when seeking forgiveness from their adult sibling. In addition, the findings indicated that attitude toward forgiveness is a mediator in the relationship of forgiveness message type and two of the three attachment styles (avoidant and secure). Lastly, an analysis of open-ended responses revealed that individuals sought out forgiveness from their adult siblings most often in incidences where verbal aggressive messages occurred. Findings indicate that actively seeking forgiveness using one of Kelley's (1998) forgiveness tactics is related to secure attachment style, however avoidant and anxious-ambivalent attachment styles were not related to the forgiveness seeking tacti

Included in

Communication Commons