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Thieves of Thankfulness: Traits that inhibit gratitude


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If gratitude is important to well-being, it is important to understand the factors that might inhibit gratitude. The purpose of this study was to investigate four putative inhibitors of gratitude: narcissism, cynicism, materialism/envy, and indebtedness. We used a prospective design where participants were administered measures related to the putative inhibitors along with trait and state gratitude, 2 months apart. After controlling for initial levels of gratitude, Time 1 narcissism, cynicism, and materialism/envy were negatively associated with Time 2 state gratitude. Evidence also supported the theory that narcissism and cynicism may interact in a vicious cycle over time. We conclude that narcissism, cynicism, and materialism inhibit state gratitude, and narcissism and cynicism may be the foundational ‘thieves of thankfulness.’
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The Journal of Positive Psychology
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Thieves of thankfulness: Traits that inhibit
Rebecca Solom, Philip C. Watkins, Duncan McCurrach & Daniel Scheibe
To cite this article: Rebecca Solom, Philip C. Watkins, Duncan McCurrach & Daniel Scheibe
(2016): Thieves of thankfulness: Traits that inhibit gratitude, The Journal of Positive Psychology,
DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2016.1163408
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Published online: 28 Apr 2016.
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Thieves of thankfulness: Traits that inhibit gratitude
Rebecca Soloma, Philip C. Watkinsa, Duncan McCurracha and Daniel Scheibeb
aDepartment of Psychology, Eastern Washington University, Cheney, WA, USA; bDepartment of Psychology, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA, USA
If gratitude is important to well-being, it is important to understand the factors that might inhibit
gratitude. The purpose of this study was to investigate four putative inhibitors of gratitude:
narcissism, cynicism, materialism/envy, and indebtedness. We used a prospective design where
participants were administered measures related to the putative inhibitors along with trait and
state gratitude, 2 months apart. After controlling for initial levels of gratitude, Time 1 narcissism,
cynicism, and materialism/envy were negatively associated with Time 2 state gratitude. Evidence
also supported the theory that narcissism and cynicism may interact in a vicious cycle over time.
We conclude that narcissism, cynicism, and materialism inhibit state gratitude, and narcissism and
cynicism may be the foundational ‘thieves of thankfulness.
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Gratitude; narcissism;
cynicism; trust; envy;
materialism; indebtedness;
emotion; positive psychology
Received 3 August 2015
Accepted 9 February 2016
CONTACT Philip C. Watkins
Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the
soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man
is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as
much as he deserves. (Henry Ward Beecher)
Gratitude appears to be one of the most critical com-
ponents of the good life. The trait of gratitude has been
found to be correlated with a host of well-being varia-
bles (e.g. McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002; Watkins,
Woodward, Stone, & Kolts, 2003; Wood, Joseph, & Maltby,
2008), and experimental studies have consistently found
that gratitude exercises enhance subjective well-being
(e.g. Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Seligman, Steen, Park,
& Peterson, 2005; Watkins, Uhder, & Pichinevskiy, 2015; for
reviews, see Watkins, 2014; Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010).
If gratitude is important to the good life, it is critical to
understand the factors that might constrain gratitude. The
purpose of this study was to investigate traits that might
inhibit gratitude.
If gratitude is an important strength for the life well
lived, it is important to understand the factors that pro-
mote the development of gratitude. The question about
what cultivates the development of gratitude has been
identied as the most important question that is cur-
rently facing the science of gratitude (see Chapter 11 in
Watkins, 2014). Thus, various authors have proposed that
particular life events and parenting styles may be impor-
tant to the development of healthy gratitude (e.g. Froh
etal., 2014). Perhaps the most common suggestion is that
secure attachment should foster the growth of gratitude
(Watkins, 2014). Indeed, Bowlby himself suggested that
secure attachment to one’s primary caregivers was the
foundation of a happy life (1979), and because gratitude
and happiness appear to be so closely tied, it is easy to see
how secure attachment may be critical for the develop-
ment of gratitude. Moreover, some research supports the
importance of secure attachment to gratitude (Konkler,
Nienhuis, Hutchinson, Vance, & Watkins, 2015; Lystad,
Watkins, & Sizemore, 2005). Thus, investigations into how
secure attachment fosters gratitude should be important.
It could be argued however, that it is important to
investigate variables that might inhibit the development
of gratitude. First, it is evident that gratitude is a universal
emotion across cultures; almost everyone develops the
capacity for experiencing gratitude. Evidence that grati-
tude exists across cultures suggests that gratitude devel-
ops fairly naturally in people, and if this is the case, it may
be important to investigate what inhibits this development.
Although measures of trait gratitude may be accused of
being negatively skewed, it is altogether possible that the
biased upward distribution in both the GQ-6 (McCullough
et al., 2002) and the GRAT (Watkins et al., 2003) is because
most people are in reality fairly grateful. This, in turn, might
be because most individuals are securely attached. Indeed,
Peterson (2006, p. 308) suggested that secure attachment
should be the ‘default mode’ of attachment processes, and
thus with relational strengths such as gratitude we should
turn our attention not to unusual or special things which
must take place in order for gratitude to develop, rather
we should look at what prevents the development of
gratitude. In sum, if indeed gratitude develops somewhat
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When one is envious of the possessions of others, they are
focused on things they do not have, which distracts them
from focusing on the goods that they do possess. In order
to be grateful one must rst recognize the good in one’s life
(Watkins, 2014), and thus focusing on what one does not
have prevents gratitude. Similarly, materialistic individuals
tend to focus on the possessions that might make them
happy, which should distract them from the good they
already possess, which is characteristic of gratitude. In sup-
port of this idea, a number of cross-sectional studies have
found that envy and materialism are negatively associated
with trait gratitude (e.g. Kashdan & Breen, 2007; Lambert,
Fincham, Stillman, & Dean, 2009; McCullough et al., 2002;
Polak & McCullough, 2006). Moreover, recently Tsang,
Carpenter, Roberts, Frisch, and Carlisle (2014) found that
a major reason that materialists are less happy is because
they are also less grateful. Of course, the results from all of
these cross-sectional studies could just as easily be inter-
preted as evidence that gratitude decreases materialism,
and here again, we see that prospective research would be
informative as to the causal relationship between materi-
alism/envy and gratitude.
Finally, we theorize that a tendency to feel indebted in
response to benets should impede gratitude (Watkins,
2014). Indebtedness is feeling obligated to repay another
(Greenberg, 1980), and trait indebtedness is one’s dispo-
sition to experience indebtedness in response to benets.
Although in the past some social scientists have equated
gratitude and indebtedness, there is now evidence that
they are distinct emotional states (e.g. Watkins et al., 2006),
and several studies have found that the traits of gratitude
and indebtedness are negatively correlated (Elster, Maleki,
McLeod, & Watkins, 2005; Van Gelder, Ruge, Brown, &
Watkins, 2007). How might indebtedness interfere with
gratitude? When one feels an obligation to repay they
experience discomfort until they have repaid their debt
(Greenberg, 1980). This might prevent them from enjoying
the benet. If one does not enjoy the gift, they are not
likely to subjectively value the gift, which should decrease
feelings of gratitude (Watkins, 2014). Thus, those who are
prone to feeling indebted in response to a gift may have
diculty experiencing gratitude.
In sum, there is now considerable support for the
importance of gratitude to subjective well-being, and
thus it is important to investigate factors that might inhibit
gratitude. Although there may be many ‘thieves of thank-
fulness, we have proposed four likely culprits: narcissism,
cynicism, envy/materialism, and indebtedness. The pur-
pose of this study was to investigate whether these traits
might restrain the growth of gratitude over time. We used
a 2-month prospective design to investigate this question.
Participants took measures of gratitude, narcissism, cyni-
cism, materialism/envy, and indebtedness twice, at least
naturally, perhaps it is important to investigate factors that
prove to be ‘thieves of thankfulness. We now explore four
putative inhibitors of gratitude: narcissism, cynicism, mate-
rialism/envy, and indebtedness.
From the beginning of the recent wave of gratitude
research, scholars have observed that narcissism should
inhibit gratitude, and conversely, humility should foster
thankfulness (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000; McCullough,
Kilpatrick, Emmons, & Larson, 2001; Roberts, 2004; Watkins
et al., 2003). In brief, when one believes that they are supe-
rior to others and one has a high sense of entitlement,
all benets from others cease to be gifts; they are simply
the goods that others and life owes them. Because most
benets are viewed as things they are entitled to, narcis-
sistic individuals have little to be grateful for (McWilliams
& Lependorf, 1990; Watkins, 2014). Given the regularity
of this proposal, it is perhaps somewhat surprising that
more research has not been carried out to test this theory.
Some evidence has shown that trait gratitude is negatively
correlated with narcissism, but only after controlling for
self-esteem (McLeod, Maleki, Elster, & Watkins, 2005). This
is not strong evidence for narcissism as a gratitude inhib-
itor however, because it is based on cross-sectional data.
In order to demonstrate that narcissism inhibits gratitude,
prospective studies are needed.
Researchers have also posited that cynicism and a lack
of trust should inhibit gratitude. Many studies have shown
that one is more likely to experience gratitude following
a benet if they believe in the ‘goodness of the giver’ (for
reviews, see McCullough et al., 2001; Watkins, 2014). In
other words, when one believes that a gift was motivated
by a genuine concern by the giver for one’s well-being, one
is more likely to experience gratitude. If one believes that a
benet was provided for ulterior motives – such as future
favors from the beneciary – gratitude is less likely to ensue
(e.g. Watkins, Scheer, Ovnicek, & Kolts, 2006). If belief in
the ‘goodness of the giver’ promotes gratitude, then cyn-
icism about the giver should inhibit grateful responses.
For example, if an individual is provided a favor but they
think, ‘I wonder what they’re trying to get out of me?’ it is
unlikely that they will respond with gratitude. Thus, we
hypothesize that those prone to cynicism about those in
their social circle should be less likely to exhibit gratitude.
Third, we submit that envy and materialism should
inhibit gratitude. Those high in materialism put a high
value on possessions for achieving happiness. Envy sim-
ply wants to possess something that someone else has
(Belk, 1985; Richins & Dawson, 1992). Envy and materialism
should be closely related because when one puts a high
premium on possessions they quite naturally will envy the
possessions of others. Indeed, in the Belk Materialism Scale
envy is an important component of materialism (Belk,
1985). How might envy and materialism hinder gratitude?
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8weeks apart. Our gratitude measures included both the
frequency of grateful emotion and trait gratitude. Because
the emotion of gratitude is more uid and likely to change
over time than trait gratitude measures, we predicted that
the stronger relationships would be between the putative
gratitude inhibitors and state gratitude. We hypothesized
that Time 1 inhibitors would be negatively correlated
with Time 2 gratitude, after controlling for initial levels of
Design and overview
This study used a prospective design where questionnaires
were administered to participants twice, at least 8 weeks
We recruited 138 students from various psychology
courses who completed both administrations. Because
data was missing from some participants, analyses varied
between 130 and 138 participants. For Time 1 alone, 185
participants completed the measures, and 143 students
completed the measures at Time 2. Age of participants
ranged between 18 and 45 (M=23.61, SD=4.86), and con-
sisted of 39 males and 98 females (one participant unde-
clared). Participants completed the study in exchange for
partial course credit. The Internal Review Board of Eastern
Washington University approved this study.
Gratitude measures
Our primary dependent variable was a measure of grate-
ful emotion, which we accomplished through a modied
version of the short Positive and Negative Aect Scales
(PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988). We modied this
scale by including the three adjectives from the Gratitude
Adjectives Scale (GAS; McCullough et al., 2002) randomly
dispersed with the standard 20 items from the PANAS. In
our version of the scale we asked participants to ‘Indicate
to what extent you have felt this way in the past week. This
served as our measure of state gratitude. The internal
consistency of the GAS was good (α=0.87 and 0.89). We
used the GQ-6 (McCullough et al., 2002) and the GRAT-S
(Watkins et al., 2003; Thomas & Watkins, 2003) to measure
dispositional or trait gratitude. The GRAT-S is the 16-item
version of the original GRAT. The GQ-6 and the GRAT are
the two measures used most frequently to assess trait
gratitude, and both have good psychometric properties.
In this study, the GQ-6 (α=0.76 and 0.81) and the GRAT-S
(α=0.86 and 0.91) showed good internal consistency.
Narcissism measures
Because of the importance of narcissism to our approach,
we used two of the most common measures of narcissism,
the Pathological Narcissism Scale (PNI; Pincus et al., 2009)
and the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI; Raskin &
Hall, 1981). As with our gratitude measures the internal
consistencies of the PNI (α= 0.94 and 0.95) and the NPI
(α=0.78 and 0.80) were good. Because both gratitude and
narcissism are positively associated with self-esteem and
it is common practice to control for self-esteem in narcis-
sism research, we also administered the Rosenberg Self-
Esteem scale (RSE; Rosenberg, 1965) to our participants.
The RSE also showed good internal consistency (α=0.88
and 0.84). To create narcissism scores that were not con-
founded with self-esteem we subtracted z-scores of the
RSE from z-scores of our narcissism scales.
Cynicism measure
We have recently created a cynicism scale that appears to
reliably measure local cynicism and lack of trust (Floberg,
Sestrap, Bart, & Watkins, 2014). Although global meas-
ures of cynicism exist, they attempt to tap this construct
by assessing one’s more general attitudes about human
nature, and it is possible that although one has a negative
view of human nature at a more global level, they may yet
have a positive view of those in their immediate social cir-
cle. Thus, we created the Cynicism and Lack of Trust Scale
(CLOT) which attempts to measure one’s cynicism about
those in their immediate social circle, and is worded such
that participants will respond with their current or recent
feelings of cynicism. The CLOT is a 22-item measure and
higher scores on this measure indicate greater cynicism.
The CLOT appears to have good psychometric character-
istics (Floberg et al., 2014), and in this study the CLOT had
excellent internal consistency (α=0.92 and 0.93).
Materialism/envy measure
We chose to measure materialism and envy with the Belk
Materialism Scale (BMS; Belk, 1985). The envy subscale
served as our assessment of envy. Because two items (1
and 18) did not have signicant item-total correlations, we
eliminated them from the analyses. Even so, the BMS did
not have excellent internal consistency (α=0.66 and 0.75).
The envy scale also had barely acceptable internal consist-
ency (α=0.51 and 0.59). Although the BMS is frequently
used to assess materialism, the poor psychometrics on this
measure may help to explain some of our results.
Indebtedness measure
We used the revised Indebtedness Scale (IS-R to assess dis-
positional indebtedness (Elster et al., 2005; Van Gelder et al.,
2007). This scale was designed to measure the tendency to
respond to benets with feelings of indebtedness (feeling
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of results. Materialism and envy did not show reliable
relationships with all of our gratitude variables at Time
1, although both materialism and envy showed signi-
cant relationships in the expected direction with all three
gratitude variables at Time 2. At both Time 1 and Time
2, trait indebtedness did not show consistent negative
relationships with gratitude, contrasting somewhat from
our earlier ndings (Elster et al., 2005; Van Gelder et al.,
2007). Although these relationships are informative, the
stronger test of the putative inhibitors of gratitude is with
prospective relationships, and this comprised our primary
Primary analyses: hierarchical regressions of Time 1
inhibitors with Time 2 gratitude
For our primary analyses we used hierarchical regression
to examine the relationship between our Time 1 inhibitors
upon Time 2 gratitude after controlling for the eects of
Time 1 gratitude. This was accomplished with stepwise
regression, where Time 1 gratitude was entered in the rst
step and then the putative inhibitor in the second step in
predicting Time 2 gratitude. Because the strongest and
most reliable relationships were found with the inhibitors
predicting declines in the GAS – our measure of the fre-
quency of grateful emotion – we limit our description to
the analyses with grateful emotion. Although the results
with our trait gratitude measures were quite similar to
grateful emotion, they tended to be somewhat weaker
and not as consistent.1
We rst describe the relationships of our self-esteem
corrected narcissism measures with gratitude. After con-
trolling for initial levels of gratitude, the self-esteem cor-
rected PNI scores signicantly predicted Time 2 GAS scores.
As expected, Time 1 GAS signicantly predicted Time 2 GAS
scores, R2=0.349, p<0.0009. More important, R2 change
was signicant in the second step, R2 change = 0.056,
obligated to repay others), and is based on Greenberg’s
(1980) original scale. Because the original scale did not
have good internal consistency and some items had poor
item-to-total correlations, we developed this expanded
22-item measure that appears to have good psychometric
characteristics (Elster et al., 2005; Van Gelder et al., 2007).
Internal consistency of the IS-R in this study was excellent
(α=0.94 and 0.94).
Questionnaires were administered in a group format. All
participants were informed of the study at least 24h prior
to administration, and the study was described to them
as ‘a study that intends to investigate how people view
statements about their personality, and ‘This study will
help us obtain information about the relationship between
various personality traits. After signing the consent form,
all participants were administered the questionnaires in
the following order: GQ-6, GRAT-S, PANAS (including the
items of the GAS), PNI, NPI, RSE, IS-R, BMS, and the CLOT.
At least 8weeks later participants were administered the
identical packet of questionnaires, with the exception that
we included demographic information at the end of the
packet. After completing the Time 2 packet participants
were awarded their compensation and were thanked for
their participation.
Cross-sectional correlations
We conducted cross-sectional correlations between our
critical variables at Time 1 (see Table 1) and Time 2 (see
Table 2). If our putative gratitude inhibitors actually hinder
the growth of gratitude we would expect negative corre-
lations between our gratitude variables and our inhibitors,
and as seen in Tables 1 and 2, this was clearly the pattern
Table 1.Zero-order Pearson r correlations at Time 1.
Notes: GQ-6: Gratitude Questionnaire; GRAT-S: Short Gratitude, Resentment, and Appreciation Test; GAS: Gratitude Adjectives Scale; PNI: Pathological Narcissism
Scale; PNI-SEC: Self-esteem corrected Pathological Narcissism Scale; NPI: Narcissism Personality Inventory; NPI-SEC: Self-esteem corrected Narcissism Personality
Inventory; RSE: Rosenberg Self-esteem scale; CLOT: Cynicism and Lack of Trust Scale; BMS: Belk Materialism Scale; BMS-Envy: Envy subscale of the BMS; IS-R:
Indebtedness Scale-Revised.
*<0.05; **<0.01; ***<0.009.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
1. GQ-6
2. GRAT-S 0.73***
3. GAS 0.42*** 0.45***
4. PNI −0.18* −0.25*** −0.10
5. PNI-SEC −0.34*** −0.34*** −0.25*** 0.85***
6. NPI 0.15* −0.01 0.20*** 0.34*** 0.07
7. NPI-SEC −0.19** −0.27*** −0.09 0.62*** 0.73*** 0.63***
8. RSE 0.40*** 0.33*** 0.32*** −0.45*** −0.85*** 0.22*** −0.62***
9. CLOT −0.25*** −0.38*** −0.25*** 0.36*** 0.47*** −0.02 0.32*** −0.43***
10. BMS −0.16* −0.22*** −0.15* 0.38*** 0.37*** 0.17* 0.32*** −0.25*** 0.43***
11. BMS-Envy −0.13 −0.22*** −0.14* 0.52*** 0.47*** 0.15* 0.42*** −0.36*** 0.45*** 0.63***
12. IS-R −0.09 −0.09 0.04 0.39*** 0.42*** −0.01 0.24*** −0.33*** 0.40*** 0.44** 0.33***
Downloaded by [Philip Watkins] at 08:47 28 April 2016
analyses to see if gratitude predicted declines in narcis-
sism, cynicism, materialism/envy, and/or indebtedness.
Thus, after controlling for the relevant Time 1 inhibitor, we
conducted semi-partial correlations between Time 1 grat-
itude and Time 2 inhibitors. Most of the relationships were
nonsignicant and failed to reach even marginal levels of
signicance. In short, although narcissism, cynicism, and
materialism/envy appear to inhibit gratitude, gratitude
does not seem to inhibit these ‘thieves of thankfulness.
Our primary results revealed that narcissism and cyni-
cism were the putative inhibitors with the strongest sup-
port. We conducted an exploratory stepwise regression
where we entered Time 1 GAS scores in the rst step, and
our three signicant inhibitors in the second step (narcis-
sism, cynicism, and materialism). As expected, step 2 in this
model was signicant, R2 change=0.113, p<0.0009, but
only cynicism and narcissism showed signicant beta coef-
cients: CLOT standardized Β=−0.239, p=0.002; self-es-
teem corrected NPI standardized Β= −0.180, p =0.019.
Because cross-sectional analyses showed that narcissism
and cynicism were strongly related we explored how they
might impact each other and the other inhibitors over
time. We used the same hierarchical regression approach
to investigate these issues. First, after controlling for initial
cynicism, both of our Time 1 self-esteem corrected nar-
cissism measures predicted increased cynicism at Time 2:
PNI, R2 change=0.019, p=0.034, standardized Β=0.155,
p=0.034; NPI, R2 change=0.016, p=0.027, standardized
Β=0.136, p= 0.027. Moreover, cynicism also predicted
increases in narcissism after controlling for initial levels
of narcissism, R2 change=0.016, p=0.027, standardized
Β=0.136, p=0.027. In sum, narcissism predicted increased
cynicism and cynicism predicted increased narcissism over
time. Thus, narcissism and cynicism appear to act in a
vicious cycle. Furthermore, we found that after controlling
for Time 1 levels of envy, narcissism predicted increases in
p<0.0009, showing that self-esteem corrected PNI scores
signicantly predicted declines in gratitude over time
after controlling for initial levels of gratitude, standard-
ized Β=−0.245, p<0.0009. Similar results were found in a
separate hierarchical regression analysis with the self-es-
teem corrected NPI. In step 2 R
change=0.058, p<0.0009,
standardized Β=−0.243, p<0.0009. In sum, after con-
trolling for initial levels of gratitude, Time 1 narcissism as
measured by the PNI and the NPI predicted declines in
gratitude at T2.
Cynicism as measured by the CLOT also showed good
evidence as an inhibitor of gratitude. After controlling for
initial levels of gratitude, in step 2 Time 1 CLOT showed
signicant R2 change = 0.086, p < 0.0009, standardized
Β=−0.296, p<0.0009. Thus, cynicism at Time 1 predicted
signicantly lower levels in grateful emotion at Time 2 after
controlling for Time 1 gratitude.
We also found that materialism and envy showed
evidence of inhibiting the frequency of grateful emo-
tion. After controlling for Time 1 levels of the GAS, Time
1 BMS scores reliably predicted Time 2 GAS scores, R2
change=0.021, p=0.038. Similarly, the envy subscale of
the BMS predicted lower levels in the GAS over time after
controlling for Time 1 GAS, R2 change=0.039, p=0.004,
standardized Β=−0.200, p<0.004.
Our results regarding trait indebtedness were mar-
ginal but did not reach statistical signicance. After con-
trolling for initial levels of gratitude, trait indebtedness
marginally predicted lower levels in Time 2 gratitude,
R2 change = 0.014, p = 0.088, standardized Β = −0.121,
Exploratory analyses
Because we administered all of our measures at both
time points, this allowed us to conduct some exploratory
Table 2.Zero-order Pearson r correlations at Time 2.
Notes: GQ-6: Gratitude Questionnaire; GRAT-S: Short Gratitude, Resentment, and Appreciation Test; GAS: Gratitude Adjectives Scale; PNI: Pathological Narcissism
Scale; PNI-SEC: Self-esteem corrected Pathological Narcissism Scale; NPI: Narcissism Personality Inventory; NPI-SEC: Self-esteem corrected Narcissism Personality
Inventory; RSE: Rosenberg Self-esteem scale; CLOT: Cynicism and Lack of Trust Scale; BMS: Belk Materialism Scale; BMS-Envy: Envy subscale of the BMS; IS-R:
Indebtedness Scale-Revised.
^<0.05; *<0.01; **<0.009.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
1. GQ-6
2. GRAT-S .61**
3. GAS .48** .59**
4. PNI −.19^−.36** −.23**
5. PNI-SEC −.35** −.56** −.43** .85**
6. NPI .01 −.07 .05 .34** .14
7. NPI-SEC −.38** −.49** −.32** .59** .74** .67**
8. RSE .40** .59** .49** −.45** −.85** .11 −.67**
9. CLOT −.38** −.50** −.46** .44** .55** .10 .46** −.50**
10. BMS −.22* −.31** −.30** .40** .40** .09 .27** −.29** .47**
11. BMS-Envy −.30** −.40** −.45** .48** .53** .19^.46** −.43** .56** .65**
12. IS-R −.16 −.29** .13 .32** .33** −.05 .14 −.24** .43** .49** .41**
Downloaded by [Philip Watkins] at 08:47 28 April 2016
of others and consequently benets received from others
will rarely exceed their expectations, which should also
inhibit gratitude. Moreover, McWilliams and Lependorf
(1990) suggested that narcissists believe themselves to be
‘needless, or as Model (1975) states it, they are under the
‘illusion of self-suciency. If one believes that they do not
need others to contribute to their well-being, then they
should be less likely to appreciate the value of the benets
that others provide, thus decreasing the recognition of the
goodness of the gift, and hence preventing the experience
of gratitude.
Note that the idea that a narcissistic individual has
entitled needs is somewhat contradictory to the theory
that narcissists believe that they are ‘needless. Indeed, this
could represent two dierent kinds of narcissism, but this
issue raises interesting questions as to the mechanisms
by which narcissism inhibits gratitude. Does narcissism
inhibit gratitude because narcissistic individuals believe
they deserve and are entitled to benets from others?
Does narcissism inhibit gratitude because people high
in narcissism do not appreciate the benets that others
provide for them? These would be interesting questions
for future research to pursue.
Recent research has indicated that levels of narcissism
have been increasing in college-aged students (Twenge,
2013; Twenge & Campbell, 2010; Twenge & Foster, 2010;
Twenge, Konrath, Foster, Campbell, & Bushman, 2008).
If our results prove to be reliable, this raises concern for
the future of gratitude. If narcissism is indeed an inhibi-
tor of gratitude, could the growth of narcissism result in
decreasing gratitude in our youth? As narcissism has been
increasing over the past 20years or so, has gratitude been
decreasing? Because of the many studies that have used
the GQ-6 and the GRAT since 2000, it would appear that
there is data that would speak to this question. The impli-
cation of the ndings of this study support the theory that
as narcissism increases, this makes gratitude more di-
cult, and hence subjective well-being may suer as well.
Chesterton’s quip from more than 100 years ago still seems
to ring true today: ‘We do not merely love ourselves more
than we love duty; we actually love ourselves more than
we love joy’ (1986, p. 165).
Our results also suggested that cynicism is a signicant
inhibitor of gratitude. If one is cynical about others then
she or he is more likely to be suspicious of the motives
of others, which should decrease one’s recognition of the
goodness of the giver. For example, if one believes that
others are primarily motivated by self-centered concerns,
when someone gives them a compliment they will rst
consider what selsh concerns motivated the other person
to provide this benet. Obviously, this will decrease one’s
recognition of the goodness of the giver, which should in
turn hinder the experience of gratitude.
Time 2 envy, R2 change=0.020, p=0.03, Β=0.174, p=0.03.
Cynicism also predicted increases in Time 2 envy after
controlling for Time 1 envy, R2 change=0.034, p=0.005,
B=0.217, p=0.005.
The purpose of this study was to investigate ‘thieves of
thankfulness’ – factors that may inhibit gratitude. The
results generally supported the theory that some per-
sonality traits serve to inhibit gratitude over time. To our
knowledge, this is the rst study that has attempted to
investigate inhibitors of gratitude with a prospective
design. Our results suggested that narcissism and cyni-
cism were the strongest inhibitors of gratitude. Both of
our self-esteem corrected measures of narcissism pre-
dicted declines in the frequency of grateful emotion.
Cynicism also predicted signicant decreases in gratitude
over time. Both materialism and envy showed evidence
of inhibiting grateful emotion, but these relationships
appeared to be somewhat weaker. In general, signicant
relationships over time with indebtedness and gratitude
were not found. Indebtedness did predict a signicant
decrease over time in trait gratitude as measured by the
GRAT-S, but because of the inconsistency of the relation-
ships between indebtedness and gratitude it is dicult
to draw clear conclusions, and so we will not discuss
the relationship between indebtedness and gratitude
Narcissism was shown to be one of the strongest inhib-
itors of gratitude in this study. This should come as no sur-
prise to theorists who have proposed that several aspects
of narcissism should hinder the experience of gratitude
(e.g. McCullough et al., 2001; McWilliams & Lependorf,
1990; Watkins et al., 2003). Summarizing the research on
the antecedents of gratitude, Watkins (2014) argued that
gratitude is more likely when one recognizes that a gift
has occurred, when one recognizes the goodness (i.e.
value) of the gift, when one recognizes the goodness of
the giver (the benet was motivated by genuine concern
for the beneciary), and when one recognizes the gratu-
itousness of the gift (the gift goes beyond the receiver’s
expectations of the giver). Because those high in nar-
cissism believe that they are superior and are therefore
entitled to benets from others, this should inhibit the
recognition of the gift and the recognition of the gratui-
tousness of the gift. Individuals high in narcissism may not
even notice that a gift has occurred because they believe
they are entitled to the benet. If one is simply receiving
his or her just due because of their perceived superiority,
they will not be likely to see the giftedness of benets in
life. Similarly, if one believes that she or he is superior and
deserves many benets, they will have high expectations
Downloaded by [Philip Watkins] at 08:47 28 April 2016
other words, humility may foster gratitude, which in turn
promotes humility. This appears to be an important nding
that deserves future research attention, but humility may
be the rich soil in which gratitude can grow.
What is it about humility that may promote gratitude?
First, humility may decrease unrealistic expectations of
others. In other words, humble people do not view them-
selves in a superior manner (in fact, they may resist social
comparison altogether), and thus do not believe that they
are entitled to benets from others. If so, when others do
provide them with benets they are much more likely to
recognize the goodness and gratuitousness of the gift,
thus enhancing gratitude. Furthermore, some have argued
that humble people do not expect large benets in life,
and so they should be more likely to appreciate simple
pleasures, which should also promote the frequency of
grateful responses. We have argued that the appreciation
of simple pleasures is foundational to the disposition of
gratitude. This is because simple pleasures are by deni-
tion more frequent and thus an individual who appreciates
simple pleasures has more to be grateful for (Watkins etal.,
2003; Watkins, 2014). A grateful person takes joy in the
day-to-day pleasures she encounters, and does not need
a vacation to Hawaii to feel grateful. Thus, another quality
that may cultivate the growth of gratitude is the appre-
ciation of simple pleasures. Future prospective studies
may want to investigate whether trust, humility, and the
appreciation of simple pleasures foster the development
of gratitude.
We believe that our results also have implications for
treatments that target gratitude. If gratitude is important
to living well, then it is important to develop interventions
that are specically designed to enhance the disposition
of gratitude. Although gratitude interventions have been
shown to enhance subjective well-being, these treatments
may or may not impact trait gratitude. Thus, it is important
that future research investigate treatments that are tar-
geted to change the cognitive and behavioral habits that
are known to be important to dispositional gratitude (see
Froh et al., 2014). Our results imply that there may be traits
that hinder the eectiveness of these treatments, however.
It is possible that individuals high in narcissism, cynicism,
and/or materialism may be more resistant to treatments
designed to enhance gratitude. Thus, coaches and thera-
pists who seek to use gratitude interventions might want
to assess these gratitude inhibitors, and intervene with
these traits before seeking to enhance gratitude. On the
other hand, it is altogether possible that individuals high in
narcissism, cynicism, and/or materialism are the very indi-
viduals most likely to benet from gratitude treatments.
Indeed, several studies have found that individuals low
in trait gratitude are more likely to show gains in subjec-
tive well-being in response to gratitude treatments (Rash,
In this study we assessed local cynicism, i.e. we meas-
ured people’s recent cynicism about those in their imme-
diate social circle. It would be interesting to see if a more
global cynicism (general cynicism about human nature)
would also prove to be an inhibitor of gratitude. We submit
that one’s attitudes about those around them are much
more likely to prevent the growth of gratitude than general
cynicism about human nature, but to be sure, this is an
issue that awaits future research.
We also found that materialism and envy inhibited our
participant’s report of the frequency of grateful emotion
over time. When one is focused on the purchase of ‘things’
to bring happiness they are less likely to be focused on
the blessings they possess. When one allocates their atten-
tion to possessions that others have that one thinks they
deserve, they cannot appreciate and be grateful for the
bounty that they have.
Although materialism and envy showed evidence of
inhibiting grateful emotion, this did not appear to be as
strong a relationship as we found with narcissism and cyn-
icism. It is possible that our time period (2 months) was
too short to show greater eects, but more than likely the
problem was in the reliability of our materialism meas-
ure. Indeed, the BMS showed poor internal consistency
in this study, and thus future work should use measures
with better psychometric properties. For example, future
researchers may want to use the Material Values Scale to
assess materialism (Richins, 2004; Richins & Dawson, 1992).
Similarly, the Dispositional Envy Scale (Smith, Parrott,
Diener, Hoyle, & Kim, 1999) should serve as a more specic
and valid measure for envy. In short, materialism and envy
appear to hinder the growth of gratitude over time, but
more research needs to investigate these putative inhibi-
tors to have condence in this conclusion.
We turn now to the wider implications of our results. If
indeed narcissism, cynicism, and materialism inhibit grat-
itude, what does this imply about factors that might culti-
vate gratitude? First, if cynicism inhibits gratitude, it seems
to follow that trust should enhance gratitude. The more
one trusts individuals in their social circle, the more they
should be likely to attribute altruistic motivations to others
who provide them with benets, and this should enhance
gratitude. Some research has shown that there appears to
be an important relationship between general trust and
gratitude, and experimental inductions of gratitude have
been shown to enhance trust (Dunn & Schweitzer, 2005).
Second, if narcissism inhibits gratitude, shouldn’t
humility enhance it? Several studies have shown positive
relationships between humility and gratitude (e.g. Uhder,
Watkins, & Hammamoto, 2010), and recently evidence
across three studies has supported the theory that grat-
itude and humility interact to produce an upward spiral
(Kruse, Chancellor, Ruberton, & Lyubomirsky, 2014). In
Downloaded by [Philip Watkins] at 08:47 28 April 2016
Thus, narcissism and cynicism may operate in something
of a vicious cycle that in turn inhibits gratitude. Moreover,
both narcissism and cynicism predicted increased envy
over time. It is possible that narcissism and cynicism pro-
duce a cascade of eects that can be particularly dam-
aging to gratitude. Although we believe that narcissism
directly hinders gratitude, narcissism may also inhibit grat-
itude by enhancing cynicism and materialism. How might
narcissism increase cynicism and materialism? First, let us
explore the narcissism and cynicism link. One way that
narcissists can maintain their sense of superiority might
be through criticizing others. It seems that it is easier to
elevate oneself by putting others down than to outper-
form them. Thus, being critical of others may be the easi-
est path to maintaining a sense of superiority. Obviously,
being critical of others would enhance cynicism, which
in turn decreases the recognition of the goodness of the
giver and thus inhibits gratitude.
Narcissism may also inhibit gratitude by increasing
materialism and envy. When one believes that one is
special and superior to others they naturally believe that
they are more entitled to material benets. Feeling that
one deserves more material benets leads to heightened
materialism. They may also become more envious of oth-
ers because they see others who have material goods that
they feel they deserve. Increased materialism and envy
directs the narcissist’s attention to things they lack, which
results in an increased sense of deprivation, which in turn
inhibits gratitude. Although our results provide some sup-
port for these two paths from narcissism to ingratitude,
this theory is highly speculative at this point. Hopefully
these ideas provide fodder for future research, and what-
ever the case, this discussion points to the importance
of investigating psychological mechanisms that help us
understand the narcissism and gratitude relationship.
To summarize, in this study we found prospective evi-
dence that narcissism, cynicism, and materialism/envy
inhibit gratitude. Moreover, we found evidence that narcis-
sism may have a particularly insidious impact on gratitude;
narcissism may directly prevent gratitude, and it may also
hinder gratitude by enhancing cynicism and materialism.
In this way, pathological pride may be seen as the ‘master
inhibitor’ of gratitude. Echoing the sentiment of Beecher in
the epigraph, Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsay
observed, ‘Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not
easily grow’ (cited in Brooks, 2015, p. 8). Pride may indeed
slay thanksgiving, and narcissism may prove to be the
prince of the ‘thieves of thankfulness.
1. Contact the second author at for a
full description of these analyses.
Matsuba, & Prkachin, 2011; Watkins et al., 2015). Clearly it
would be prudent for future research to investigate how
narcissism, cynicism, and materialism might moderate
gratitude treatments.
We turn now to further considerations for future
research. First, we recommend that future studies use a
longer prospective design. Of course there are always prac-
tical constraints on longitudinal research, but we believe
that a 6-month prospective design should yield promising
results. A longer prospective design should allow for more
change in the gratitude measures – which may be particu-
larly important to demonstrate inhibitors of trait gratitude.
Clearly, the fact that we used only a 2-month prospective
design was a limitation to this study. That being said, it is
worth pointing out that we still found clear evidence for
three of our four putative inhibitors.
Although our prospective design oers major advan-
tages over the previous cross-sectional work, a prospective
design is still a correlational design and we believe that
future studies using quasi- and true-experimental designs
would be informative. Quasi-experimental designs could
be used to compare those low and high on a particular
inhibitor to evaluate the eectiveness of a gratitude emo-
tion induction. For example, if those high in narcissism
showed that experimental gratitude inductions were
less eective than for those low in narcissism, this would
provide corroborating evidence for our results here. Even
better, we envision that true-experimental designs could
be used to evaluate these inhibitors. For example, experi-
mental inductions of hubristic pride could be followed by
the presentation of a gift, and gratitude could be assessed.
Gratitude should be less likely in the presence of a hubristic
pride than a healthy pride induction. In short, we encour-
age future researchers to consider quasi- and true-exper-
imental designs.
As with most research that uses college students, our
study could be criticized on the basis of external validity.
For example, it is likely that the narcissism seen in our sam-
ple is not representative of the population at large. Future
studies using more diverse populations would be desir-
able. The current study could also be criticized because
we used self-report measures. Although our prospective
design essentially controls for self-report biases, the use
of behavioral, informant, and/or implicit measures would
be a step forward in this regard. Currently however, only
self-report measures of gratitude exist, and as with other
research areas the formation of implicit gratitude measures
would be a major development in the science of gratitude.
We now turn to an important question regarding the
development of gratitude: Is narcissism the master inhibi-
tor of gratitude? Exploratory analyses showed that narcis-
sism predicted increased cynicism and materialism over
time, but cynicism also predicted enhanced narcissism.
Downloaded by [Philip Watkins] at 08:47 28 April 2016
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... Narcissists may have less empathy (Burgmer et al., 2021;Hepper et al., 2014), less gratitude (Solom et al., 2017), and more cynicism (Solom et al., 2017, Szymczak et al., 2020. ...
... Narcissists may have less empathy (Burgmer et al., 2021;Hepper et al., 2014), less gratitude (Solom et al., 2017), and more cynicism (Solom et al., 2017, Szymczak et al., 2020. ...
In the current paper we introduce a new conceptualization of communal narcissism, as encompassed by two narcissistic strategies congruent with self-promotion and self-defensive motives. In addition, we posit that communal narcissistic strategies should be aligned with communal self-enhancement. Therefore, we propose narcissistic sanctity as an ego-boosting strategy and narcissistic heroism as an ego-defensive strategy. In a series of eleven studies (N = 5,606) we develop, validate, and employ what we will call the Narcissistic Sanctity and Heroism Concept. We found the scale to be a robust measure of communal narcissism and that the two postulated strategies are psychologically distinct while psychometrically sound. Specifically, we found that narcissistic sanctity was related to implicit and explicit communion, communal (but not agentic) self-enhancement and explained more socially (as compared to heroism) acceptable functioning in close relationships, being positively correlated with prosocialness via denying one’s egoistic motivations. Narcissistic heroism, on the other hand, was related both to agency and communion, it was unrelated to communal self-enhancement, explained less socially acceptable (as compared to sanctity) functioning in close relationships, and was related to less prosocialness via egoistic motivation. In sum, a newly proposed model of communal narcissism sheds new light on prior research on communal narcissism, explaining null relationships between communal self-presentation and actual behaviors in the communal domain.
... However, they are conceptualized as incompatible conscious tendencies (Langher, Caputo, Nannini, & Sturiale, 2016;McCullough et al., 2002;Xiang, Chao, & Ye, 2018) and are well-known to be biased by socially desirable responding leading to problems of over-and underreporting (Smith, Parrott, Diener, Hoyle, & Kim, 1999). The stable proneness to feel grateful in daily life has been found to be negatively associated with dispositional envy (Solom, Watkins, McCurrach, & Scheibe, 2017). Indeed, gratitude features are overwhelmingly perceived as positive compared to envy ones (Lambert, Graham, & Fincham, 2009) since grateful people are more able to appreciate and savor positive experiences, whereas envious people tend to focus on what they lack (Roberts, 2004). ...
The present study aims at testing whether: higher connection between subsymbolic and symbolic systems in expressing gratitude or envy may account for greater proneness to experience such feelings (1); differential effects exist when considering the (dis)connection among systems in expressing the opposite feelings (2). A convenience sample of 56 Italian participants was recruited (50% female; Mage = 44.16 years, SD = 16.07). A structured interview was used to compute some referential activity (RA) measures regarding the expression of gratitude and envy; as well, dispositional gratitude (GQ-6) and envy (DES) scales were administered. Multiple regression analyses were used to test the role of RA measures in explaining dispositional gratitude and envy, controlling for gender and age, whereas subgroup analyses for participants with low/high RA levels in envy and gratitude examined potential differential effect estimates. The results showed that envy-related RA may allow disclosing envious feelings, especially when there is a greater difficulty to get in touch with gratitude. Instead, gratitude-related RA does not necessarily result in greater grateful disposition, also because affect integration about envy can confound the relationship between emotional awareness and self-reported levels of gratitude. Limitations, suggestions for future research, and clinical implications are briefly discussed.
... Although some studies proposed conceptual models relating R/S with humility or gratitude, the field is currently plagued by problems associated with cross-sectional data. The field needs more To answer such questions, scholars can continue to build on theory about how humility and gratitude function within interpersonal relationships, such as work on how observing others express gratitude can strengthen groups (Algoe et al., 2020) or how gratitude can protect relationships from envy, cynicism, or other relational threats (Solom et al., 2017). Given that gratitude is such a powerful motivator of prosocial behavior (Ma et al., 2017), what virtues set the stage for gratitude? ...
... Interestingly, adolescents frequently expressed appreciation for fulfilling material needs and receipt of material gifts from different people. Although materialism deters gratitude (Solom et al., 2017), it is also a favoured means of pursuing happiness (Emmons, 2014). Indeed, material possessions have a significant consumption value because young people use them to express their extended self (Belk, 1988). ...
This chapter focuses on positive adolescent development and the role of gratitude in particular in promoting adolescent well-being. A global view on the subject is offered, with a specific focus on the Indian cultural context. The chapter consists of three main sections. The first section offers various perspectives on adolescent development, emphasizing a strengths-based approach. It highlights empirical findings on how gratitude benefits adolescents. This section also presents the cross-cultural and indigenous Indian aspects of gratitude. The second part describes an empirical study involving gratitude journaling among Indian adolescents. Study findings and implications are discussed. The third and final section of this chapter presents both Indian and international scenarios towards positive adolescent development and concludes by proposing future recommendations.
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This chapter examines positive psychology theories and research findings on how gratitude contributes to happiness and well-being. Two theories are discussed that provide insight into why gratitude enhances well-being (i.e., Broaden-and-Build Theory; Find, Remind, and Bind Theory). Empirical findings are reviewed showing that gratitude relates to lower levels of psychological distress, higher levels of psychological well-being, and better physical health. Benefits of writing-based gratitude interventions such as maintaining gratitude journals and writing gratitude letters are described. Studies showing promising benefits of gratitude across several situations are also addressed (i.e., the workplace, romantic relationships, and aging). Finally, suggestions for enhancing gratitude in one’s life are provided along with recommendations for future research.
Gratitude is important for social and emotional health. Research suggests that there is a relation between experiencing and expressing gratitude and happiness. The aim of this chapter is to review current research regarding gratitude development and happiness, adolescent gratitude development, and to discuss future recommendations. This chapter also discusses a study examining adolescent perspectives on the meaning of being thankful. To obtain adolescent perspectives on the meaning of being thankful, adolescents (N = 1,098) wrote essays describing what being thankful meant to them. Thematic analysis was used to identify and analyze themes within the essays. Percentiles were calculated for the most recurrent themes across essays (Appreciation = 54.07%, Family = 31.42%, Positive Emotions = 28.81%, Assistance/Support from Others = 25.99%, Friendship = 21.18%, and Downward Comparison = 16.60%). Understanding gratitude development in adolescents can aid in creating effective interventions, potentially increasing adolescent well-being and happiness.
In this chapter we review the good of gratitude and recommend various methods for cultivating this human strength. First, we show how gratitude is indeed good. We show how gratitude is important to flourishing and happiness. Gratitude is strongly correlated with various measures of well-being, and experimental studies suggest that gratitude actually causes increases in happiness. If gratitude is good, then it behooves us to investigate how the disposition of gratitude can be enhanced. We suggest that grateful responding can be enhanced by training in noticing the good in one's life, and by encouraging interpretations and appraisals that have been found to promote gratitude. We then present a discussion of unresolved issues in the science of gratitude. This is followed by a discussion of who might benefit most from gratitude. We conclude with a summary of the cultivation of gratitude. Research strongly supports the idea that the cultivation of gratitude should result in a harvest of happiness, but cultivating gratitude is not likely to be an easy process.
Gratitude is felt when we perceive we have received a valuable good that is intended for our benefit. Although the majority of empirical research on gratitude has looked at benefit transactions between tangible benefactors, people also experience gratitude toward more intangible benefactors such as God, governments, corporations, and collectives. We apply construal level theory to gratitude toward intangible benefactors to shed light on how these abstract agents might elicit gratitude differently from more concrete benefactors. We review research on the antecedents of gratitude, including variables related to the benefactor, the recipient, relationship variables, and the benefit. We make predictions for how gratitude toward intangible benefactors such as God or the government may diverge from prototypical interpersonal gratitude, and we provide a roadmap for future research.
Though prior research has identified that gratitude is associated with benign/malicious envy (BeMaS). The purpose of this study was to explore the causal relationship between gratitude and BeMaS among Chinese adolescents. The two-wave study, in which 906 adolescents participated, includes measurements of gratitude and BeMaS. We employed the structural equation models to test the cross-lagged effect between trait gratitude and BeMaS. The results showed that gratitude could positively predict benign envy and could negatively predict malicious envy. Besides, there was no evidence for the reverse or reciprocal relationships between gratitude and BeMaS. The findings provide further evidence about the causal relationship between gratitude and BeMaS among adolescents. Moreover, these results have implications for gratitude interventions that promote the constructive meaning of envy and reduce the negative influence of envy.
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 behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.
In four studies, the authors examined the correlates of the disposition toward gratitude. Study 1 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 sample. Study 3 yielded similar results to Studies 1 and 2 and provided evidence that gratitude is negatively associated with envy and materialistic attitudes. Study 4 yielded evidence that these associations persist after controlling for Extraversion/positive affectivity, Neuroticism/negative affectivity, and Agreeableness. The development of the Gratitude Questionnaire, a unidimensional measure with good psychometric properties, is also described.
We demonstrate that incidental emotions (e.g. anger stemming from an argument with your spouse) influence trust in unrelated settings (e.g. the likelihood of trusting a co-worker). Incidental happiness and gratitude increase trust, and incidental anger decreases trust. Other-person control appraisals mediate this relationship, and trustee familiarity moderates this relationship.
This book provides clear and sometimes surprising answers to why gratitude is important to living well. The science of gratitude has shown much growth in the last ten years, and there is now sufficient evidence to suggest that gratitude is one of the most important components of the good life. Both correlational and experimental studies have provided support for the theory that gratitude enhances well-being. After providing a lucid understanding of gratitude, this volume explores the many aspects of well-being that are associated with gratitude. Moreover, experimental work has now provided promising evidence to suggest that gratitude actually causes enhancements in happiness. If gratitude promotes human flourishing, how does it do so? This issue is addressed in the second section of the book by exploring the mechanisms that might explain the gratitude/well-being relationship. This book provides an up to date account of gratitude research and suggested interesting paths for future research, all while providing a theory of gratitude that helps make this information more understandable. This book is very valuable to gratitude investigators, as well as all who are interested in pursuing this line of research, students and scholars of emotion and well-being and instructors of positive psychology courses and seminars.
Gratitude, like other positive emotions, has inspired many theological and philosophical writings, but it has inspired very little vigorous, empirical research. In an effort to remedy this oversight, this book brings together prominent scientists from various disciplines to examine what has become known as the most-neglected emotion. The volume begins with the historical, philosophical, and theoretical foundations of gratitude, and then presents the current research perspectives from social, personality, and developmental psychology, as well as from primatology, anthropology, and biology. The volume also includes a comprehensive, annotated bibliography of research on gratitude. This work contributes a great deal to the growing positive psychology initiative and to the scientific investigation of positive human emotions. It will be an invaluable resource for researchers and students in social, personality, developmental, clinical, and health psychology, as well as to sociologists and cultural anthropologists.
The obligation to repay a benefit has long been noted by observers of human interaction. Democritus, for one, offered the following advice in the fourth century B.C..: “Accept favors in the foreknowledge that you will have to give a greater return for them.” Four centuries later the Roman Seneca observed that “He who receives a benefit with gratitude, repays the first installment on his debt.” Although the idea of an obligation to repay benefits has been recognized for centuries, it is only in recent years that its antecedents and consequences have been investigated empirically. The purpose of this chapter is to clarify the theoretical and empirical status of the indebtedness concept, and to illuminate its utility for understanding social interaction. The first section is concerned with defining indebtedness; the second presents hypotheses and relevant data regarding the determinants of the magnitude of indebtedness; the third contains a discussion of the various modes for assessing the magnitude of indebtedness, along with a review of the relevant empirical literature; in the fourth section, indebtedness is distinguished from the related concept of inequity; and in the last section, indebtedness is examined from a cross-cultural perspective.
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 the development of gratitude as a path to a good life, and prescribes approaches for practicing. Gratitude is explored further in the context of psychological theory and research. Empirical research linking gratitude with well-being and goal attainment is presented and discussed. Finally, future research questions and a tentative research agenda are presented.
Documenting trends in young people's self-reported traits and attitudes is empirical research, not a complaint or a stereotype. Rising cultural individualism has both good consequences (more gender equality) and more negative ones (narcissism, mental health issues). Arnett seems to believe we should embrace studies of cultural change only if they find positive trends. A total of 11 studies show a generational increase in narcissism, 7 using noncollege samples. They include respondents from high school age to adults, four different ways of measuring narcissism, three different research methods, four different ways of recruiting respondents, three different countries, and eight sets of authors. Eleven additional samples show increases in positive self-views. Perspective taking, empathy, and concern for others have declined, not increased. Narcissism is not related to teen pregnancy or car accidents. An enormous body of research finds generational increases in anxiety, depression, and mental health issues, most in noncollege samples. © 2013 Society for the Study of Emerging Adulthood and SAGE Publications.