Translating "forgiveness" : the validity of the mandarin version of the Enright forgiveness inventory
The Enright Forgiveness Inventory (EFI) purports to measure a person’s level of forgiveness. Now available in many languages, it joins the list of Western psychological inventories that have been exported to other cultures in the name of cross-cultural research. Actually, this constitutes intercultural research, as one culture (or here, its inventory) interacts with another (here, the respondents). For this study, back-translation and a questionnaire were used to evaluate the Mandarin EFI (MEFI) as a tool of intercultural research. Chinese and Western cultural differences relevant to forgiveness were also examined. Respondents were asked to provide Mandarin characters to match Enright’s definition of “forgiveness” and a definition of “tolerance”. These were associated with selected characters, Chinese sayings, and MEFI items. The resulting data show little consensus regarding respondents’ understandings of the definitions. The characters prompted by the definitions varied widely, and the four characters most frequently suggested for each definition held two in common. Of twenty-two MEFI items (there are 60), only four were identified (by a slim majority) to be connected to forgiveness. A majority agreed with one of Enright’s major assumptions, but a majority disagreed with another. Responses to Enright’s definition in general and to the MEFI items in particular show that the respondents’ understandings of forgiveness vary widely from Enright’s and that they do not consider the MEFI to be closely related to forgiveness. Those who use the MEFI are in danger of proving true the Chinese proverb, “Two-thirds of what a person sees exists behind that person’s eyes”.
Master of Education (M.Ed.)