Forgiveness and justice are related virtues but they may exert divergent effects on moral judgments. Participants were primed with either forgiveness or retributive justice and made moral judgments of individuals. Experiment 1 demonstrated that religious participants recalling an experience of forgiveness reported more favorable attitudes toward moral transgressors than did those recalling an experience of retributive justice. Experiment 2 replicated the priming effect on moral judgments using a subtle prime of either forgiveness or justice (word search) and a different dependent measure. Experiment 3 employed a more religiously diverse sample and revealed the moderating role of religious commitment. These results suggest that salience of forgiveness leads to more favorable evaluations of moral transgressors compared to retributive justice for religious individuals.
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