Stanford Scientists Believe that Forgiveness Can Improve Health

Tong Yun

PureInsight | February 17, 2003

[] Researchers at Stanford University believe that forgiveness can improve health, and they're seeking 70 Bay Area women to help prove it. Specifically, they are recruiting women who are pre-menopausal, at least 18 years old, feel stressed and "down" sometimes and who need to forgive someone in order to let go of an issue. The researchers want to learn if women who are angry with others can learn to reduce the stress produced by such anger while also improving their health by forgiving the person who wronged them.

"When we are particularly angry about an event over a long period of time, there is often a psychological cost in terms of stress, hostility, strained relationships and so forth," said Samuel D. Standard, a research fellow in education. "But there is a physical cost as well. When we're especially agitated we produce cortisol, a hormone, which can help us rally and gain brief strength against a threat. However, an elevated level of cortisol for a prolonged period is implicated in several serious diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and cancer," he added. The goal is to test a method developed by the Stanford team for letting go of the anger and experiencing true forgiveness in terms of psychosocial and physiological parameters.

The project is headed by Carl Thoresen, PhD, professor emeritus of education and, by courtesy, of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.


The Chinese version is available at

Add new comment