The study is titled “The Relationship between Forgiveness, Imagined Interactions, Empathy and Relational Satisfaction among Romantic Couples.”
Mapp’s paper, which was co-authored by Dr. James Honeycutt of Louisiana State University, was presented as part of a panel titled “Forgiveness, happiness, mindfulness and clarity.”
The study surveyed 183 people in romantic relationships. The findings suggest that people who spend more time having imagined interactions and taking the perspective of their romantic partner are also more forgiving of them.
Imagined interactions occur when people daydream about communicating with significant others. Empathy occurs when people recognize another’s emotion and feel it, too, Mapp said.
Mapp’s work on forgiveness and imagined interactions is part of a larger program of research that studies long-distance romantic relationships.
“It’s likely that when we imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we’re better at understanding their motivations and actions. We can also understand how much we’d desire forgiveness if we were in the same situation,” Mapp said. “Before we can forgive someone, typically we have to imagine wanting that forgiveness, too.”
Mapp, who also serves as the director of ULM’s Student Publications, received his master’s degree in public relations at the University of Southern Mississippi. He received his doctorate in interpersonal communication at Louisiana State University.