Robert Emmons

Robert Emmons
University of California, Davis | UCD · Department of Psychology

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73
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (73)
Presentation
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We surveyed how people experience gratitude within the unique challenges offered by the pandemic. Moreover, this was the first study to investigate future gratitude: how grateful people expect to be in the future.
Article
Joy has been curiously omitted from the purview of Positive Psychology. I present an overview and introduction of the articles appearing in The Journal of Positive Psychology’s special issue on Joy. I describe the purpose of this special issue and articulate why greater attention to joy is warranted within the field of Positive Psychology.
Article
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Adolescence is one of the most common periods during which people report religious transformations (Regnerus & Uecker, 2006), but few studies have examined what variables might precipitate a transformation during this time. Based on early writings of James (1902) and Starbuck (1911), we tested the hypotheses that adolescents are more likely to expe...
Article
How do I do it? Keep a journal where you write in detail about things you are grateful for in your life. How does it work? By default, our attention is drawn to problems and obstacles in life. This exercise helps you notice, in ways both big and small, what is going well. How do I do it? Expert Practice helps you improve your skills—no matter what...
Article
The concept of grace has, in the psychology of religion, been largely neglected as a legitimate topic for empirical inquiry. We define grace here as a gift given unconditionally and voluntarily to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver, the giver being either human or divine. We explore the concept of grace within a variety of religious trad...
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This article is an introduction to the special issue “The Psychology of Virtue: Integrating Positive Psychology and the Psychology of Religion.” The articles in this special issue underscore the centrality of mooring the positive psychological examination of virtue in religious and spiritual traditions.
Chapter
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Gratitude is highly prized. A small sampling of quotes reveals the power and potential of this virtue. “Whatever you are in search of – peace of mind, prosperity, health, love – it is waiting for you if only you are willing to receive it with an open and grateful heart,” writes Sarah Breathnach in the Simple abundance journal of gratitude. Elsewher...
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Gratitude is essential to social life and well-being. Although research with youth populations has gained momentum recently, only two gratitude interventions have been conducted in youth, targeting mostly adolescents. In the current research, we tested a new intervention for promoting gratitude among the youngest children targeted to date. Elementa...
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The psychological study of conversion has long been concerned with the functionality of conversion, or the ability of religious and spiritual transformation to foster positive change in people’s lives. The epistemic, intrapsychic, and moral sociability functions of transformation were tested in a sample of adolescents attending religious summer cam...
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Hood, Hill, and Spilka (2009)14. Hood , R. W. Jr. , Hill , P. C. and Spilka , B. 2009. The psychology of religion: An empirical approach(.), 4th ed, New York, NY: Guilford. View all references, among others, present the need for meaning as a central organizing framework for understanding the psychological functions of religion. A plethora of res...
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Gratitude practice can be a catalyzing and relational healing force, often untapped in clinical practice. In this article, we provide an overview of current thinking about gratitude's defining and beneficial properties, followed by a brief review of the research on mental health outcomes that result from gratitude practice. Following an analysis of...
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The correspondence hypothesis maintains that people with secure parental attachments will experience gradual religious conversions, with internal working models of childhood attachment figures forming the basis of attachment to God. The compensation hypothesis predicts that people with insecure attachments will experience sudden and dramatic conver...
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A theory of relational humility asserts that humility can promote strengthening social bonds. To complement prior, cross-sectional research on this topic, two longitudinal studies were conducted. In Study 1, college students in romantic relationships (N = 123), all of whom had been hurt or offended by their partners within the last two months, comp...
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The study of humility has progressed slowly due to measurement problems. We describe a model of relational humility that conceptualizes humility as a personality judgment. In this set of 5 studies, we developed the 16-item Relational Humility Scale (RHS) and offered initial evidence for the theoretical model. In Study 1 (N = 300), we developed the...
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Materialistic youth seem to be languishing while grateful youth seem to be flourishing. High school students (N=1,035) completed measures of materialism, gratitude, academic functioning, envy, depression, life satisfaction, social integration, and absorption. Using structural equation modeling, we found that gratitude, controlling for materialism,...
Article
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Before the developmental trajectory, outcomes, and related interventions of gratitude can be accurately and confidently studied among the youth, researchers must ensure that they have psychometrically sound measures of gratitude that are suitable for this population. Thus, considering that no known scales were specifically designed to measure grati...
Article
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Gratitude, a positive response to receiving a benefit, may contribute more to youth than just momentary happiness. It may ignite in youth a motivation for “upstream generativity” whereby its experience contributes to a desire to give back to their neighborhood, community, and world. We tested this notion by longitudinally examining early adolescent...
Chapter
Understanding the psychology of forgiveness within the religions is critically important these days as religions seem to be among the most robust forces that can either help or hinder all kinds of human relationships. The topic of forgiveness occupies a central place in all of the major world religions, with the assumption that there is something w...
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part of a larger study on ‘spiritual fruit formation’ in adolescents, teenaged participants in Young Life outreach “camping” programs completed surveys immediately before and immediately after the camping experience. Participants were American teens attending standard Young Life camps in the United States (Lake Champion, New York and Sharp Top Cove...
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The development and manifestation of gratitude in youth is unclear. We examined the effects of a grateful outlook on subjective well-being and other outcomes of positive psychological functioning in 221 early adolescents. Eleven classes were randomly assigned to either a gratitude, hassles, or control condition. Results indicated that counting bles...
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Religion as a domain of human activity invests existence with meaning by establishing goals and value systems. These goals potentially pertain to all aspects of a persons' life. A goals approach rooted in personal strivings provides a general unifying framework to capture the dynamic aspect of religion in people's lives. Empirical research on the m...
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Religion invests human existence with meaning by establishing goals and value systems that potentially pertain to all aspects of a persons' life. A goals approach provides a general unifying framework to capture the dynamic aspect of religion in people's lives. Empirical research on the measurement of spirituality and religion through personal goal...
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Two studies were conducted to explore gratitude in daily mood and the relationships among various affective manifestations of gratitude. In Study 1, spiritual transcendence and a variety of positive affective traits were related to higher mean levels of gratitude across 21 days. Study 2 replicated these findings and revealed that on days when peopl...
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Narcissism is a set of traits that are motivated by the desire to establish and maintain a grandiose self-image. Consistent with this conceptualization, the authors hypothesized that narcissistic people perceive themselves to be the victims of other people's inter-personal transgressions more frequently than do less narcissistic people. In a 14-day...
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The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behavio...
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This chapter discusses progress in the psychology of religion by highlighting its rapid growth during the past 25 years. Recent conceptual and empirical developments are described, with an emphasis on the cognitive and affective basis of religious experience within personality and social psychology. Religion and spirituality as domains of study, as...
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In four studies, the authors examined the correlates of the disposition toward gratitude. Study I revealed that self-ratings and observer ratings of the grateful disposition are associated with positive affect and well-being, prosocial behaviors and traits, and religiousness/spirituality. Study 2 replicated these findings in a large nonstudent samp...
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This article presents an overview of this special issue of the Journal of Personality on religion in the psychology of personality. I begin with a brief historical overview in which I highlight the discrepancy between the vision of early personologists and how religion is handled today within the field of personality. I then consider how contempora...
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Gratitude is conceptualized as a moral affect that is analogous to other moral emotions such as empathy and guilt. Gratitude has 3 functions that can be conceptualized as morally relevant: (a) a moral barometer function (i.e., it is a response to the perception that one has been the beneficiary of another person's moral actions); (b) a moral motive...
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Gratitude is an emotional state and an attitude toward life that is a source of human strength in enhancing one's personal and relational well-being. In this article, we first explore the theological origins of gratitude as a virtue to be cultivated in the major monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each tradition emphasizes...
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This article explores spirituality as a form of intelligence. The evidence for spirituality as a set of capacities and abilities that enable people to solve problems and attain goals in their everyday lives is evaluated. Five components of spiritual intelligence are identified: (a) the capacity for transcendence; (b) the ability to enter into heigh...
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In our reply to Pargament, we focus on 2 main themes that are vital to a discussion of re- ligion and spirituality: (a) the multiple meanings of the term sanctification and (b) the importanceof inquiring into people's implicit beliefs about the nature of God. We advo- cate using the term sacralization to refer to sanctification in the external sens...
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This article is concerned with the conceptual and methodological issues in the measurement of personal goals, with special emphasis on assessing spiritual and religious content in goals. The research literature on personal goals and subjective well-being is reviewed and synthesized. A comparison of several popular goal units in the research literat...
Chapter
In this chapter, we propose to demonstrate that emotion-management strategies are fundamental for understanding individual differences in social support. Our basic assumption is that social interactions are, for the most part, transactions of affect; that is, social interchanges generate and are mediated by the affect of their participants. Manstea...
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This special issue is centered around the problem of levels and domains in personality functioning. What kind of constructs--and at what levels and in what domains--are needed to understand what a person is like? To account for the complexity and scope of human lives, personality psychologists have traditionally put forth lists and taxonomies of fa...
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The link between emotional conflict and the perceived availability and use of social support was examined. One hundred and five undergraduate students completed measures of ambivalence over expressing emotion, repressive defensiveness, fear of intimacy, social support, and well-being. Self-reports, observer reports, and daily reports of social supp...
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Concepts of differentiation and integration were examined using the “personal striving” goal construct (Emmons, 1986, 1989). Goal differentiation was defined in two ways: 1.(a) as how dissimilar subjects rated their strivings as being (Emmons & King, 1989), and2.(b) as the amount of non-overlapping variance in subjects' evaluative assessments of th...
Chapter
The period from 1968 until the early 1980s was not a prosperous one for personality psychology. There was growing disenchantment with the traditional individual differences paradigm and with the apparent lack of theoretical progress being made in the field. Authors of the Annual Review chapters on personality regularly bemoaned the state of the fie...
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A widely used measure of narcissism in normal populations, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), was located within the frameworks of two more comprehensive personality models: the Interpersonal Circumplex and the Five-Factor model. The NPI was found to be highly positively correlated with Dominance and Exhibitionism markers of the Circumpl...
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This study examined the relation between personal striving level and psychological and physical well-being. Level refers to the degree of generality versus specificity of one's goal strivings. In 3 studies, 188 Ss generated lists of their personal strivings, which were then rated on specificity level. High-level striving was associated with more ps...
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Inhibition is emerging as a central construct in both the literature on personality and health and the literature on the structure of personality. This study explored the structure of several questionnaire measures of inhibition by subjecting data from a number of scales to exploratory factor analyses. Combined samples of 155 students and noncolleg...
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Interactional models of life events and personality posit domains of vulnerability within which individuals are most likely to be affected by negative life events. A variation of this model was tested in a study of the separate as well as interactive effects of daily life events and personal strivings on psychological and physical well-being. Subje...
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This article examines the relations between emotional expression, conflict over expression, and emotional control and psychological and physical distress. Fifty married couples completed two mail-in surveys containing the Emotional Expressiveness Questionnaire (EEQ), the Ambivalence Over Emotional Expression Questionnaire (AEQ), and the Emotional C...
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This study addresses the construct of conflict or ambivalence over emotional expression. Ambivalence is seen as an important mediator in the link between emotional styles and psychological and physical well-being. Using the "personal striving" framework, a questionnaire measure of ambivalent emotional strivings (AEQ) was designed. In Study 1, 292 S...
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Examined the relation between affective reactivity (intensity and variability of mood) and cognitive differentiation through the personal striving (Emmons, 1986) framework in order to test the hypothesis that affective reactivity underlies differentiation. 88 Ss in 2 samples listed 15 of their personal strivings and rated them with respect to 3 mea...
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We examined the influence of goal conflict and ambivalence on psychological and physical well-being through the personal striving framework. Eighty-eight undergraduates in two studies listed 15 of their personal strivings and rated them on the amount of conflict experienced between them and ambivalence experienced about each. Diary and experience s...
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Lack of a suitable measuring device hampered the empirical study of narcissism until Raskin and Hall (1979) developed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). The NPI possesses desirable psychometric properties, and in this article I used the scale in a variety of studies. Factor analysis of the scale replicated the four-factor solution found...
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Ambivalence about expressing emotion has been suggested as mediating the relationship between inhibition and psychological and psychosomatic distress. A study was conducted to examine the relationship of ambivalence over emotional expression to psychological and physical well-being through the "personal striving" framework. Measures of ambivalence...
Article
Addressed the viability of introducing into the moderator variable literature a distinction between chosen and imposed situations in 2 studies with 62 undergraduates. In Study 1, the relation between recreational activity choices and selected personality traits and the stability of these choices over time was examined. In Study 2, the cross-situati...
Article
Examined relations between characteristics of personal goal strivings (e.g., importance, past attainment, effort) and components of subjective well-being (positive and negative affect and life satisfaction). 40 undergraduates generated lists of their personal strivings and rated each striving on a series of dimensions. Ss also recorded their moods...
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Studied person–situation interactions using 2 models of reciprocal interactionism: the choice-of-situations model and the congruence-response model. 22 undergraduates were followed for a period of 30 days and were asked to record 20 situations they encountered, their positive and negative affects in each situation, and their daily mood. Support was...
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Conducted 2 studies to examine individual differences in affective response intensity to identical levels of emotion-provoking stimulation. In Study 1, with 62 undergraduates, the stimuli were daily life events. Ss recorded 2 events/day for 56 consecutive days and rated their affective reactions to those events. A total of 5,971 event descriptions...
Article
The purpose of the present study was to explore several of the processes accounting for situational choices. Subjects kept daily records of their moods and the situations they encountered over a 30-day period. They rated the importance of 17 goals in each situation and estimated how often they actually attained each goal. The frequencies of satisfy...
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To investigate the influence of sociability and impulsivity on positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction, 140 undergraduates (68 in Study 1 and 72 in Study 2) completed daily mood reports and were administered the Eysenck Personality Inventory, as well as other well-being measures. Results show that sociability but not impulsivity was...
Article
19 female undergraduates rated their emotions in a wide variety of work, recreation, social, and solitary situations sampled over a 30-day period. Ss were also administered the Personality Research Form and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire. Although predictable relations were found between certain personality traits and specific emotions avera...
Article
Recent studies of person-situation interactions have focused nearly exclusively on the statistical rather than reciprocal form of the concept. In an attempt to reverse this trend, two models of reciprocal interactionism are offered: choice of situations and congruence response models. The choice model proposes that individuals select situations and...
Article
A number of subjective well-being scales were compared and evaluated. The Satisfaction With Life Scale emerged as a good measure of general life satisfaction and the Affective Intensity Measure appeared to adequately assess the characteristic level of emotional intensity. Most other scales seemed to reflect both life satisfaction and duration of po...
Article
Research on emotions and several happiness scales suggest that positive and negative affect are strongly inversely correlated. However, work on subjective well-being indicates that over time, positive and negative affect are independent across persons. In order to reconcile this inconsistency, two dimensions are proposed for personal affective stru...
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The subjective well-being of very wealthy persons was compared with that of a control group who lived in the same geographical area. One hundred persons from Forbes list of wealthiest Americans were queried, as well as 100 control persons selected from telephone directories. The 49 wealthy respondents reported average levels of subjective well-bein...
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Full-text available
This article reports the development and validation of a scale to measure global life satisfaction, the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Among the various components of subjective well-being, the SWLS is narrowly focused to assess global life satisfaction and does not tap related constructs such as positive affect or loneliness. The SWLS is sho...
Article
A number of psychological processes (e.g. social comparison, aspirations) may explain why people differ in their satisfaction with various life domains. This study compared the impact of a number of such processes on satisfaction judgments in a sample of 149 college students. Social comparison and positive affect were strong predictors of satisfact...
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Five studies on the relation between positive and negative affect are reported. In Studies 1 and 2 we found that positive feelings were remembered as being nearly independent of negative feelings in the past year, but the two types of affect were moderately negatively correlated for the past month. In Studies 3 and 5, subjects completed daily mood...
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Three studies are reported which provide evidence for the validity of the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). Factor analysis of the NPI in Study 1 revealed four factors which were labelled: Exploitativeness/Entitlement, Leadership/Authority, Superiority/Arrogance, and Self-absorption/Self-admiration. In Study 2, scores on the NPI were correl...
Article
Examined 2 models of person × situation interactions using 42 undergraduates. The 1st model (H. A. Murray, 1938) predicts that there is a relation between personality and the situations people naturally choose to be in; the 2nd model (H. J. Eysenck, 1952) predicts that when there is congruence between the situation and personality, a person will ex...

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Project
This research project funded by the John Templeton Foundation is in collaboration with the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. The broad aims of the project are to create measures of gratitude designed especially youth, understand how gratitude develops, identify best practices for promoting gratitude in youth. My current research tries to achieve these goals by investigating how gratitude is related with school and social factors, mental health and wellbeing, and achievement in students across the educational pipeline (in preK, elementary, middle and high school) in schools throughout the country. Read on for more info... The gratitude measures in development are for young children (age 4-6), preteens (ages 7-11), and teens (12-18). My work testing the effects of a gratitude curriculum for grades 4-12 is helping me identify strength-based practices for teaching as well as motivating the whole child. The big goal of the YGP gratitude curriculum is to provide schools with gratitude practices as a way of improving and personalizing their social emotional learning (SEL) efforts. The preK study, also testing a gratitude curriculum, will be key to investigating the measurement and early development of gratitude.