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Relationship between Gratitude & Well-being
Emmons and McCullough examined gratitude and well being under three experimental conditions. Participants were divided into three groups (i.e., one group was asked to journal about negative events or hassles, a second group about the things for which they were grateful, and the third group about neutral life events) and were required to journal either daily or weekly. Across the various study conditions, the gratitude subsample consistently evidenced higher well being in comparison with the other two study groups.
Dickerhoof designed an experiment in which students could participate in one of two exercises—one that purportedly would boost happiness or another that consisted of “cognitive exercises.” To equalize the expectations of participants, the students were informed that participation in either group was likely to increase their overall sense of well being. The “happiness” paradigm required participants to either write about their best possible future selves (optimism exercise) or write letters of gratitude (gratitude exercise). In contrast, in the control paradigm, participants were required to write about the events of the past week. As predicted, compared with the control group, the happiness-paradigm group demonstrated increases in well being.
Froh et al conducted a study in which 221 adolescents were assigned to either a gratitude exercise (i.e., counting one's blessings), a hassle condition, or a control condition. As predicted, the gratitude condition was associated with greater life satisfaction. The authors concluded from their experience that counting blessings seem to be an effective intervention for enhancing well being in adolescents.
In a sample of 389 adults, Wood et al. examined gratitude and well being in the context of personality style. In this study, gratitude was most strongly correlated with personality attributes related to well being, and the researchers concluded that gratitude has a unique relationship with life satisfaction.
Like the preceding authors, other studies have found similar findings. For example, among Taiwanese high school athletes, Chen and Kee11 found that gratitude positively predicted life satisfaction. Tseng found an association between gratitude and well being among 270 Taiwanese college students. Finally, Froh et al examined 154 adolescents and confirmed associations between gratitude and life satisfaction.