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How gratitude inhibits envy: From the perspective of positive psychology

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With the development of positive psychology, gratitude, as a typical positive emotion, has attracted significant attention. Gratitude has a profoundly positive effect on cultivating people's positive traits, and negative emotions affect many aspects of people's daily lives. Many studies have explored the inhibiting effect of gratitude on negative emotions. In this study, based on the coping theory and the broaden‐and‐build theory of positive emotion, we used scenario method to discuss the inhibiting effect of trait gratitude and state gratitude on a common and typical negative emotion: situational envy. We randomly recruited 326 undergraduate students as participants and asked them to complete the Gratitude Questionnaire, Dispositional Envy Scale, state gratitude materials, and situational envy materials. Our results showed that (1) state gratitude inhibits situational envy and (2) state gratitude plays a partial mediating role between trait gratitude and situational envy. This article suggests educational field for future school should devote more attention to gratitude, and lay a good foundation for students' future development in society. Taken together, these results verify the positive role of gratitude, help to expand relevant theories about inhibiting envy, and provide a theoretical reference for cultivating people's positive traits and countering negative emotions.
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How gratitude inhibits envy: From the perspective of positive
psychology
Yidi Mao,
1,2
Jiaxu Zhao,
1,2
Yi Xu,
1
and Yanhui Xiang
1,2
1
Department of Psychology, School of Educational Science, Hunan Normal University, Changsha,
China,
2
Cognition and Hunan Behavior Key Laboratory of Hunan Province, Hunan Normal University,
Changsha, China
Abstract: With the development of positive psychology, gratitude, as a typical positive emotion, has attracted signicant attention. Grati-
tude has a profoundly positive effect on cultivating peoples positive traits, and negative emotions affect many aspects of peoples daily
lives. Many studies have explored the inhibiting effect of gratitude on negative emotions. In this study, based on the coping theory and
the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion, we used scenario method to discuss the inhibiting effect of trait gratitude and state grat-
itude on a common and typical negative emotion: situational envy. We randomly recruited 326 undergraduate students as participants and
asked them to complete the Gratitude Questionnaire, Dispositional Envy Scale, state gratitude materials, and situational envy materials.
Our results showed that (1) state gratitude inhibits situational envy and (2) state gratitude plays a partial mediating role between trait grat-
itude and situational envy. This article suggests educational eld for future school should devote more attention to gratitude, and lay a
good foundation for studentsfuture development in society. Taken together, these results verify the positive role of gratitude, help to
expand relevant theories about inhibiting envy, and provide a theoretical reference for cultivating peoples positive traits and countering
negative emotions.
Keywords: situational envy; state gratitude; trait gratitude; upward social comparison
Correspondence Dr. Yanhui Xiang, Cognition and Hunan Behavior Key Laboratory of Hunan Province, Hunan Normal University,
No. 36 Lushan Rd., Yuelu District, Changsha 410081, China. Email: xiangyh@hunnu.edu.cn
Received 16 May 2020. Accepted 1 November 2020.
Authorsʼcontributions: Y. M.: Paper writing, Paper revising; J. Z.: Data analysis, Paper revising; Y. X.: Data collection;
Y. X.: Study designing, Paper revising.
Gratitude, a typical positive quality and positive emotional
experience, is one of the core contents of positive psychology
(D. Zhang, Zheng, & Wang, 2018). Prior studies have shown
that gratitude can inhibit negative emotions (Wood, Maltby,
Gillett, Linley, & Joseph, 2008). Envy, an unpleasant feeling
experienced in upward social comparison, is a typical nega-
tive emotion manifested as inferiority, hostility, and resent-
ment (Parker, Low, Walker, & Gamm, 2005; Parrott &
Smith, 1993; Takahashi et al., 2009). Several studies have
found a signicant negative correlation between gratitude and
envy (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002; McCullough,
Tsang, & Emmons, 2004; Solom, Watkins, McCurrach, &
Scheibe, 2017). However, there is no empirical study that
clearly demonstrates whether gratitude has a signicant
inhibiting effect on envy under situational conditions. There-
fore, the current study uses the scenario method to explore
whether state gratitude and trait gratitude can inhibit situa-
tional envy in upward social comparison.
Gratitude and envy
Positive psychology focuses on the positive qualities and
self-worth of mankind (Seligman, 2002), and gratitude is a
subjective positive emotion induced from positive experi-
ences (Bono & Froh, 2009; Froh et al., 2011). Gratitude
has numerous positive effects, such as promoting happiness
(McCullough et al., 2002; Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010)
© 2020 The Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
PsyCh Journal (2020)
DOI: 10.1002/pchj.413
and improving physical and mental health (L. Zhang &
Hou, 2010). Meanwhile, gratitude is associated with a more
positive outlook toward life (Wood, Maltby, Stewart, &
Joseph, 2008) and people with high levels of gratitude may
take the time to focus on positive aspects of their daily lives
(Watkins, Woodward, Stone, & Kolts, 2003). Among them,
the most important role of gratitude is to inhibit negative
emotions in daily life (Wood, Maltby, Gillett, et al., 2008;
Watkins et al., 2003). An important cause of negative emo-
tions is upward social comparison, which results in a com-
mon and typical negative emotion: envy (Smith, 2000).
The propensity to feel envy is common (Smith, Parrott,
Diener, Hoyle, & Kim, 1999). Envy is often thought of as a
feeling that is related to negative thoughts, causing hostility
and immoral behaviors (Alberoni, 1991). Therefore, under-
standing envy is important because it involves personal and
social problems (Takahashi et al., 2009). Studies have
found a positive correlation between envy and mental
health symptoms (Xiang, Zhao, et al., 2019). Besides, envy
is likely to enhance aggression, which subsequently leads
to social problems (Xiang, Chen, & Zhao, 2019). It has
been shown that gratitude can affect envy (Xiang, Chao, &
Ye, 2018), the main mechanism being that social support
mediates the association between gratitude and envy. Sec-
ondly, some studies have found that people tend to notice
when others have what they lack, which is one of the nec-
essary conditions for the development of envy (Parrott &
Smith, 1993; Smith & Kim, 2007). In contrast, people with
high levels of gratitude are more focused on what they have
(McCullough et al., 2002). Therefore, they do not have the
necessary conditions for the development of envy, and thus
may experience lower levels of envy. However, it is thus far
unclear whether gratitude inhibits envy in upward social
comparison. Therefore, this study will use the scenario
inducing method to explore whether gratitude can inhibit
situational envy.
Coping theory, state gratitude, and
situational envy
Firstly, state gratitude is an instant emotional feeling that peo-
ple produce when receiving favors, as well as a lasting state
of mind (McCullough et al., 2004; Weiner, 1985). Wood,
Joseph, and Linley (2007) have explored the role of state
gratitude and proposed the coping theory. According to this
theory, when faced with stressful situations, people with high
state gratitude will express more positive emotions and adopt
more positive coping strategies. Through empirical research,
Wood, Maltby, Stewart, Linley, and Joseph (2008) have
shown that people with high trait gratitude experience their
own positive bias when faced with stressful situations in soci-
ety because they could change their situations in response to
unpredictable and uncontrollable matters. A typical stressful
situation in society is upward social comparison, which can
lead to envy (Taylor, Buunk, & Aspinwall, 1990). Therefore,
when faced with this situation, people with high state grati-
tude are better able to regulate negative emotions (Rey,
Extremera, & Durán, 2012), show positive emotions
(Buunk & Gibbons, 2007), and focus on the positive inu-
ences of others on themselves (McCullough et al., 2002,
2004), thus inhibite envy. Meanwhile, Lv and Zhou (2019)
have demonstrated that people with high state gratitude can
also improve their core self-evaluation (Lv & Zhou, 2019).
However, an important cause of envy is the damage to core
self-evaluation in upward social comparison (Buunk &
Gibbons, 2007). Therefore, people with high state gratitude
may improve their core self-evaluation, which decreases envy
in later upward social comparison. In conclusion, based on
the coping theory and previous studies, we proposed:
Hypothesis 1 (H1): State gratitude inhibits
situational envy.
Broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion,
trait gratitude, state gratitude, and
situational envy
Secondly, we hypothesize that another form of gratitude,
trait gratitude, may also inhibit situational envy. Trait grati-
tude is a personality trait that appreciates and focuses on
positive aspects of life (Wood et al., 2010). According to
the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion
(Fredrickson, 1998, 2004), trait gratitude, as a positive
emotional trait, can broaden cognitive maps and help peo-
ple to build positive resources. For instance, Tian, Chu,
and Huebner (2016) have found, based on this theory, that
people with high trait gratitude tend to experience more
positive emotions in their daily lives, leading to more posi-
tive assessments of their environments. Moreover, trait grat-
itude can also increase peoples positive evaluation of
themselves, others, and the world (Wood et al., 2010),
especially helping to build their self-esteem (Bartlett,
Valdesolo, & Arpin, 2019). Ng, Cheung, and Lau (2019)
have found that damage to self-esteem is also an important
factor causing envy in upward social comparison. However,
the construction of self-esteem can reduce the degree of
damage, thus inhibiting situational envy. We therefore
2 How gratitude inhibits envy
© 2020 The Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
preliminarily speculated that trait gratitude can inhibit situ-
ational envy. In addition, under inducing conditions, people
with a certain positive emotional trait are more likely to
have corresponding positive emotions induced (Tugade,
Fredrickson, & Barrett, 2004). Thus, people with high trait
gratitude are also more likely to have high state gratitude
induced when they are in gratitude-inducing situations
(McCullough et al., 2002). At the same time, our discus-
sion on H1 has speculated that state gratitude can inhibit
situational envy. Accordingly, we further speculated that
trait gratitude can directly inhibit situational envy, and that
state gratitude may play a signicant mediating role
between trait gratitude and situational envy. Based on these,
we proposed:
Hypothesis 2 (H2): Trait gratitude can inhibit situational
envy through the mediating role of state gratitude.
In conclusion, the current study aims to discuss the
inhibiting effect of state gratitude and trait gratitude on sit-
uational envy. Based on the coping theory and the broaden-
and-build theory of positive emotion, and on a review of
relevant literature, we proposed the abovementioned
hypotheses: (H1) state gratitude inhibits situational envy;
and (H2) trait gratitude inhibits situational envy through
the mediating role of state gratitude. The present study
intends to verify the positive role of positive emotions rep-
resented by gratitude.
Method
Participants
The power analysis using G*Power software (Faul,
Erdfelder, Lang, & Buchner, 2007) indicated that we
needed a sample of at least 102 participants to detect a
medium-sized effect (f = .40, α= .05, 1β= .95) in order
to conduct a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). The
entire study project was completed from mid-March 2019
to mid-June 2019. Three hundred and twenty-six under-
graduate students from China were sampled via cluster
sampling. There were 30 males and 296 females, with an
average age of 18.49 1.85 years, ranging from 18 to
26 years. All participants were of normal intelligence, with
no known physical illness or mental illness. This present
study was approved by the Academic Committee of the
School of Psychology at Hunan Normal University. All
participants were provided with written informed consent
before the study and received ¥15 at the end of the
experiments.
Experiment materials
Gratitude Questionnaire
The Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ-6; McCullough
et al., 2002) was used to measure participantsscores on
the intensity, frequency density, and breadth of gratitude
(e.g., I feel thankful for what I have received in life;I
am grateful to a wide variety of people). Participants
responded to six items on a 7-point Likert-type scale, rang-
ing from 1 (strongly disagree)to7(strongly agree), with
higher scores indicating higher levels of gratitude. This
study used the Chinese version of the GQ-6 (Chen &
Kee, 2008), which was demonstrated to be a reliable and
valid measurement in Chinese populations (Kong, Ding, &
Zhao, 2015; Xiang et al., 2018). In the present study, the
Cronbachs alpha coefcient for the GQ-6 was .79.
Dispositional Envy Scale
The Dispositional Envy Scale (DES; Smith et al., 1999)
was used to measure participantsscores on how frequently
participants experienced envy in daily life (e.g., I feel
envy every day;No matter what I do, envy always
plagues me). Participants responded to eight items on a
5-point Likert-type scale, ranging from 1 (strongly
disagree)to5(strongly agree), with higher scores indicat-
ing higher levels of dispositional envy. This study used the
Chinese version of the DES, which was demonstrated to be
a reliable and valid measurement in Chinese populations
(Xiang et al., 2017; Xiang, Chen, & Zhao, 2019). In the
present study, the Cronbachs alpha coefcient for DES
was .91.
State gratitude materials
This study expanded and revised the state gratitude induc-
ing materials used by Yu (2018). We formed the gratitude
priming materials: (1) the high-gratitude scenarios used
were a large nancial donation, re danger warning, diver-
sion of serious trafc accidents, solutions to major prob-
lems before important examinations, blood transfusion,
assistance escaping from danger, and rock-climbing rescue;
(2) the low-gratitude scenarios used were assistance buying
a schoolbag, notication of leaks, fall assistance, solutions
to small problems before important examinations, a small
nancial donation, holding open a door, and a reminder to
PsyCh Journal 3
© 2020 The Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
do some cleaning. For example, A is your classmate living
next door to you. When your building caught re, A vigor-
ously knocked on your door and saved your house from a
terrible re instead of running away.
Meanwhile, this study used the Gratitude Adjective
Checklist (GAC; McCullough et al., 2002), which included
three adjectives: grateful, thankful, and appreciative. Con-
sidering the Chinese cultural background, we only used an
adjective of gratefulto measure induced gratitude on a
9-point Likert-type scale (1 = not at all;9=extremely)
with higher scores indicating greater intensity of induced
gratitude. In the present study, the Cronbachs alpha coef-
cient for the GAC was .92.
Situational envy materials
This study was adapted according to the envy material
compiled by Takahashi et al. (2009). They set two basic
conditions of similarityand self-correlationto induce
envy in their envy-inducing scenarios, with similarity
referring to the similarity of the envious persons
background, which was mainly controlled by identity char-
acteristics, gender, goals, and interests in scenarios, while
self-correlationwas controlled by comparing what the
person wanted. Based on the Chinese cultural background,
this study adapted some content related to localization,
such as food preference and recreation. We designed these
envy-inducing scenarios: selecting an outstanding student,
applying for a job, love, a sport competition, winning a
prize by chance, shaking hands with stars, and community
election. For example, You are soon graduating from
school, and A went with you to interview for a position in
the same company. There were only two of you competing
for the position after screenings and selections. Ultimately,
A was hired, but you were not.
Moreover, we used the word envyto measure the
degree of envy generated by participants, the same method
as assessing gratitude. Participants responded on a 9-point
Likert-type scale from 1 (not at all)to9(extremely), based
on their feelings, with higher scores indicating higher inten-
sity of induced envy. In the present study, the Cronbachs
alpha coefcient for these materials was .87.
Procedure
We conducted experiments in the experimental classroom
in order to ensure a quiet environment. Each experiment
was conducted with at least two experimenters, who had
received professional experimental operation training. Par-
ticipants were told to read the instructions carefully before
the experiment and to answer according to the instructions.
First, we measured the level of participantstrait grati-
tude and dispositional envy. Second, participants were ran-
domly divided into three groups: (1) 110 participants in a
high-gratitude priming group consisting of nine males and
101 females with an average age of 18.09 0.96 years;
(2) 121 participants in a low-gratitude priming group con-
sisting of 12 males and 109 females with an average age of
18.49 1.85 years; and (3) 95 participants in a comparison
group consisting of nine males and 86 females with an
average age of 18.73 2.59 years. Experimenters told par-
ticipants to imagine the protagonist of the scenarios as
themselves and asked them to retell the scenarios. Third,
participants rated how grateful they felt while retelling
these scenarios. Finally, experimenters let both the compari-
son group and the experimental groups read the same
envy-inducing scenarios and rated their own levels of envy.
Experimenters checked the questionnaires after nishing
the answers. It took approximately 30 mins for every par-
ticipant to nish the tests.
Data analysis
This study used SPSS 20.0 for data analysis. First, a one-
way ANOVA was used to explore any differences among
the three groups (comparison group, high-gratitude priming
group, low-gratitude priming group) of trait gratitude and
dispositional envy before inducing participants. Meanwhile,
a paired-samples ttest was used to analyze whether the
materials successfully induced high or low state gratitude.
Next, we used a one-way ANOVA to test the differences in
the evaluation of envy scenarios among the three groups in
order to explore the inhibiting effect of state gratitude on
situational envy. Finally, without distinguishing between
high and low state gratitude, we used data from two
scenario-inducing groups to test the mediating role of state
gratitude between trait gratitude and situational envy.
Results
Comparison of trait gratitude and
dispositional envy
First, the results of the one-way ANOVA showed no signif-
icant differences in the levels of dispositional envy,
F
(2,323)
= 0.510; p= .601, or trait gratitude,
4 How gratitude inhibits envy
© 2020 The Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
F
(2,323)
= 0.400; p= .670, among the three groups (compar-
ison group, high-gratitude priming group, low-gratitude
priming group) before inducing. Table 1 shows scores on
trait gratitude and dispositional envy among the three
groups before inducing.
Scenario effect test
Secondly, we tested the inducing effect of the experimental
materials on gratitude. Table 2 shows scores on state grati-
tude in the experimental groups after inducing. Regardless
of the scores of overall gratitude or different scenarios, the
scores of the high-gratitude priming group were signi-
cantly higher than those of the low-gratitude priming
group, showing that our materials had successfully induced
high and low levels of state gratitude.
Differences in situational envy among the three
groups
Differences in situational envy among the three groups
were analyzed by a one-way ANOVA. The results showed
that there were signicant differences in envy levels,
F
(2,323)
= 12.116; p< .001, among the comparison group
(3.46 1.17), low-gratitude priming group (3.09 1.29),
and high-gratitude priming group (2.62 1.68), with envy
scores among the three groups decreasing, respectively.
Further multiple comparisons found that variables differed
signicantly from each other. Specically regarding envy,
the high-gratitude priming group scored signicantly lower
than the low-gratitude priming group (p= .004) and the
comparison group (p< .001), and the envy scores of the
low-gratitude priming group were also signicantly lower
than those of the comparison group (p= .031). These
results indicated a causal link between gratitude and envy.
Participants who were induced by high-gratitude scenarios
had a signicantly lower level of envy than those induced
by low-gratitude scenarios. Moreover, the higher the level
of state gratitude, the lower the level of situational envy.
Trait gratitude, state gratitude, and
situational envy
We further examined whether trait gratitude could also pre-
dict state gratitude, and the mechanism between trait grati-
tude and situational envy. We combined the scores of two
groups (high-gratitude priming group and low-gratitude
priming group) into an overall continuous score. Correla-
tion analysis showed that trait gratitude, state gratitude, and
situational envy were signicantly correlated (see Table 3).
Therefore, we further explored whether trait gratitude could
inhibit situational envy through state gratitude; that is, to
nd the mediating mechanism of state gratitude in trait
gratitude and situational envy. Through hierarchical regres-
sion analysis, controlling for gender and age, we found that
state gratitude played a partial mediating role between trait
gratitude and situational envy (see Table 4).
Discussion
Based on the coping theory and the broaden-and-build the-
ory of positive emotion, the present study discussed the
inhibiting effect of state gratitude and trait gratitude on sit-
uational envy with results as follows: (1) state gratitude
inhibits situational envy; (2) trait gratitude inhibits situa-
tional envy through the mediating role of state gratitude.
This is the rst empirical study to demonstrate that both
state gratitude and trait gratitude can inhibit situational
envy. Moreover, it provides a theoretical reference for
inhibiting negative emotions, such as envy.
Firstly, this study found that state gratitude inhibits situa-
tional envy, which proved H1. This result is basically con-
sistent with previous studies; that is, gratitude is negatively
correlated with negative emotions (M
airean, Turliuc, &
Arghire, 2019; Watkins et al., 2003; Wood, Maltby, Gillett,
et al., 2008). Meanwhile, there is also a signicant negative
correlation between gratitude and envy (McCullough
et al., 2002, 2004; Solom et al., 2017), and gratitude can
also affect envy (Xiang et al., 2018). Secondly, the results
also t the coping theory (Wood et al., 2007). People with
Table 1
Scores on Trait Gratitude and Dispositional Envy Among the Three Groups Before Inducing (M ± SD)
Dispositional envy Trait gratitude
M±SD Skewness Kurtosis M±SD Skewness Kurtosis
Comparison (n= 95) 1.88 ± 0.67 1.07 1.82 4.96 ± 0.79 0.43 0.58
Low-gratitude priming (n= 121) 1.91 ± 0.72 1.08 0.82 4.95 ± 0.91 0.13 0.21
High-gratitude priming (n= 110) 1.98 ± 0.70 0.81 0.08 5.04 ± 0.78 0.01 0.80
PsyCh Journal 5
© 2020 The Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
high levels of state gratitude may take more positive strate-
gies when facing upward social comparison, thus inhibiting
their negative emotions, such as envy. As the mechanism
of these results, we suggested that people with high state
gratitude focus more on what others give to them
(McCullough et al., 2002). Therefore, when faced with suc-
cessful peers, people with such positive emotions tend to
pay more attention to the positive inuences of others
advantages on themselves, rather than on what they lack,
thus reducing envy in upward social comparison by shifting
the focus of attention. Furthermore, we believe that there is
another possible explanation for this result, that people with
high state gratitude have higher levels of core self-
evaluation (He, Shi, & Yi, 2014), which helps people to
cope with negative emotions (Kammeyer-Mueller, Judge, &
Scott, 2009; Rey et al., 2012), thereby inhibiting situational
envy in later upward social comparison. Consequently, state
gratitude inhibits situational envy.
Meanwhile, this study also found that trait gratitude
inhibits situational envy through the mediating role of state
gratitude, as is consistent with H2. This result ts the
broaden-and-build theory of positive emotion
(Fredrickson, 2001) that people with high trait gratitude
can: help themselves build lasting positive resources
through positive emotions (Fredrickson & Losada, 2005);
improve their evaluations of themselves, others, and the
world (Wood et al., 2010); and inhibit negative emotions,
such as situational envy. Secondly, we explain the
inhibition of trait gratitude on situational envy as follows:
empirical studies have shown that trait gratitude is posi-
tively correlated with emotional intelligence and that peo-
ple with high trait gratitude are better able to perceive and
manage emotions (Rey & Extremera, 2014). As an ability
to perceive and process emotions (Petrides, Pérez-
González, & Furnham, 2007), emotional intelligence can
further inhibit negative emotions (Kong, Gong, Sajjad,
Yang, & Zhao, 2019). Therefore, we believe that trait grati-
tude can enhance emotion-regulation ability and thus
inhibit situational envy. In addition, people with high trait
gratitude may induce high state gratitude under scenario-
inducing conditions because people with higher traits may
be induced to have higher corresponding situational emo-
tions in the inducing situation (McCullough et al., 2002).
Meanwhile, this study has veried the inhibiting effect of
state gratitude on situational envy. Therefore, trait gratitude
inhibits situational envy through the mediating role of state
gratitude.
Both state and trait gratitude can inhibit envy, which
reects the importance of moral education and cultivation
of gratitude, especially in school (Tian et al., 2016). Froh,
Bono, and Emmons (2010) have found that students with
high levels of gratitude connect with others in meaningful
Table 2
Scores on State Gratitude in the Experimental Groups After Inducing
High-gratitude priming materials Low-gratitude priming materials tp
Overall gratitude 6.25 ± 0.68 4.74 ± 1.16 11.916 <.001
Scenario 1 5.66 ± 1.34 5.04 ± 1.42 3.418 <.001
Scenario 2 6.70 ± 0.63 4.68 ± 1.39 13.995 <.001
Scenario 3 6.40 ± 0.95 4.28 ± 1.44 13.070 <.001
Scenario 4 6.27 ± 0.89 5.59 ± 1.35 4.525 <.001
Scenario 5 5.80 ± 1.24 4.75 ± 1.45 5.887 <.001
Scenario 6 6.34 ± 0.88 4.54 ± 1.61 10.377 <.001
Scenario 7 6.57 ± 0.77 4.28 ± 1.48 14.550 <.001
Table 3
Descriptive Statistics and Correlations Among Three Variables (N = 231)
M±SD 123
1. Trait gratitude 4.99 ± 0.85 1.000
2. State gratitude 5.46 ± 1.22 .301
***
1.000
3. Situational envy 2.87 ± 1.25 .189
**
.134
*
1.000
Note.
*
p< .05,
**
p< .01,
***
p< .001.
Table 4
Mediating Effects Test
Procedure Variables
Regression value
R
2
Beta tp
X!Y Situational envy
Trait gratitude .064 .23 3.408 .001
X!M State gratitude
Trait gratitude .126 .26 4.068 .001
M!Y Situational envy
State gratitude .045 .18 2.620 .009
M, X!Y Situational envy
Trait gratitude .078 .19 2.829 .005
State gratitude .13 1.829 .069
6 How gratitude inhibits envy
© 2020 The Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
ways; furthermore, gratitude and social integration serially
enhance each other. Schools cultivate studentsgratitude
quality, which is benecial to those students with high grat-
itude quality, facilitating quicker integration into adult soci-
ety when facing stressful situations, as well as better
problem-solving skills and inhibition of negative emotions,
such as envy. Therefore, schools should devote more atten-
tion to the education of gratitude.
The present study has some limitations. First, as most of
the data we collected were from normal universities, the
ratio of males to females was not in harmonious propor-
tions, the gender ratio of participants was about 2:8, and
conclusions need to be drawn with caution when it comes
to male participants. Second, when we designed the experi-
ment, we mainly focused on the measurement of trait grati-
tude in the GQ-6 (McCullough et al., 2002) to dene our
measurement of state gratitude. Therefore, we only focused
our attention on grateful,and we did not refer to thank-
fuland appreciativein the GAC specically, because we
aimed to explore participantsstate gratitude under situa-
tional conditions. This may mean that our measurement of
state gratitude is less precise, and future research should
pay attention to this problem.
Conclusion
In conclusion, based on the coping theory and the broaden-
and-build theory of positive emotion, this is the rst empir-
ical study to discuss and demonstrate that both state and
trait gratitude can inhibit situational envy. These results
have provided theoretical references and effective empirical
evidence to expand relevant theories about inhibiting envy
and cultivating peoples positive traits in daily life, and
about intervening with and inhibiting negative emotions.
Disclosure of conict of interest
The authors declare that there are no conicts of interest.
Acknowledgments
This work was supported by the General Program of
National Social Science Foundation of China[grant numbers
19BSH114]. The funding source had no inuence on study
design, data collection, data analysis and interpretation,
paper writing, or the decision to submit the manuscript for
publication.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The present study was approved by the Academic Commit-
tee of Hunan Normal University. All participants provided
written informed consent before completing the question-
naires, and were paid after completing the whole
questionnaires.
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