Source: (2005) Australian Psychologist. 40(1): 63 – 69

Victims of criminal transgressions can receive compensation from various sources including government agencies, compensation orders instructing offenders to pay compensation, and as a result of victim – offender reconciliation programs. This study examined the effects of source of compensation on victim forgiveness and satisfaction with outcome. The relationship between trait empathy and forgiveness in various compensatory contexts was also examined. Seventy-five participants (M= 33.67 years, SD= 14.28) read a scenario describing a nonviolent property crime and were randomly assigned to no compensation, government compensation, forced offender compensation, or voluntary offender compensation outcome conditions. Participants receiving compensation were more satisfied with the outcome than those who did not. A condition main effect indicated that participants who received voluntary offender compensation were significantly more forgiving than participants in the remaining conditions; however, a significant Condition 6 Empathy interaction indicated that participants with high and low trait empathy reacted differently to some compensation conditions. Conciliatory gestures by offenders appear to facilitate forgiveness in victims primarily when they are voluntary. The question of whether some compensatory procedures are more beneficial than others is contingent upon the aims of restorative justice.