Furthering the Science of Gratitude

Philip C. Watkins, Michael Van Gelder and Araceli Frias

in The Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology

Second edition

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195187243
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
 Furthering the Science of Gratitude

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In this chapter, we sought to strengthen the science of gratitude. We suggest effective approaches for studying gratitude, present a theoretical framework for researching gratitude, review recent gratitude research, and suggest directions and questions for future research, all in an attempt to encourage research on this important virtue. After presenting a brief historical background of gratitude, we define state and trait gratitude and describe several useful measurement tools. We review research that has examined traits that are associated with gratitude and show that grateful individuals have many salutary traits. We then overview research strategies that have been used to investigate gratitude and pay particular attention to successful experimental manipulations of gratitude. A number of studies have investigated the advantages of gratitude. Not only is gratitude strongly associated with happiness, but experimental studies have shown that gratitude actually enhances happiness. We propose several mechanisms whereby gratitude might enhance happiness. Gratitude may support happiness through enhancing enjoyment of benefits, relationships, self-esteem, and coping ability. Grateful processing of pleasant events may also enhance the accessibility of pleasant memories. Conversely, gratitude may support happiness by inhibiting envy and preventing depression. We conclude by presenting some concerns and prospects for the future of gratitude research. Continued understanding of this important emotion and virtue will do much to advance our understanding of the critical components of the good life.

Keywords: appreciation; gratitude; happiness; subjective well-being; thank

Article.  6594 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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