Humility and Forgiveness: The Role of Social Relations among Three Ethnic Groups

Humility and forgiveness represent two key temperance virtues that have significant implications for well-being on an individual and societal level. Both can inform individuals’ understanding of their own lives, how they interpret the actions of others, and their willingness to work for a better society. Each signify personal characteristics, yet develop through social relationships. We propose that social networks are centrally important for character development in that they constitute the circle of significant others through which efficacy emerges, support is received and overall trust is generated. We argue these may work as key pathways through which social networks lead to the development of humility and forgiveness, and ultimately well-being. Yet, there is little population-level empirical data exploring the direct and indirect ways in which social networks influence the character virtues of humility and forgiveness and whether this process varies by ethnicity or race. We propose an innovative approach to survey racially and ethnically diverse adults from the Detroit metropolitan area. The method includes an experimental component that will test hypothesized pathways through which individuals acquire the virtues of humility and forgiveness as well as a dyadic component. Expected outputs include a data archive, scientific presentations and publications, as well as media and practitioner outreach. Anticipated outcomes include creating a new focus within social relations research that links to character development and well-being across the life span. One of our goals is to create a focus on the virtues of humility and forgiveness in media discourse. We also hope to stimulate practice and program initiatives that enhance character development through social relations. Finally, we envision this work being expanded internationally in an effort to foster humility, forgiveness and peace world-wide.