Implementation intentions to express gratitude increase daily time co-present with an intimate partner, and moderate effects of variation in CD38.
ABSTRACT: Close social connections drive mental and physical health and promote longevity. Positive, other-focused behavior like expressing gratitude may be a key mechanism for increasing close bonds. Existing evidence consistent with this claim is predominantly correlational, likely driven by challenges in causally influencing and sustaining behavior change in the context of ongoing relationships. This 5-week field experiment with daily data from couples provides the first evidence for a brief, low-cost behavioral technique to increase everyday expressed gratitude to a romantic partner. Random assignment to the gratitude expression treatment (GET) increased the amount of time couples spent co-present in everyday life, from the weeks before GET to the weeks after, relative to the control condition. This effect was mediated by the change in expressed gratitude. Voluntary co-presence is an important behavioral indicator of close bonds in non-human animals. Further analyses with a functional genotype related to the oxytocin system (rs6449182) suggest a neurochemical pathway involved in the effects of expressing gratitude. Together, this evidence bridges animal and human research on bonding behavior and sets up future experiments on biopsychosocial mechanisms linking close bonds to health.
Project description:Oxytocin is thought to play a central role in promoting close social bonds via influence on social interactions. The current investigation targeted interactions involving expressed gratitude between members of romantic relationships because recent evidence suggests gratitude and its expression provides behavioral and psychological 'glue' to bind individuals closer together. Specifically, we took a genetic approach to test the hypothesis that social interactions involving expressed gratitude would be associated with variation in a gene, CD38, which has been shown to affect oxytocin secretion. A polymorphism (rs6449182) that affects CD38 expression was significantly associated with global relationship satisfaction, perceived partner responsiveness and positive emotions (particularly love) after lab-based interactions, observed behavioral expression of gratitude toward a romantic partner in the lab, and frequency of expressed gratitude in daily life. A separate polymorphism in CD38 (rs3796863) previously associated with plasma oxytocin levels and social engagement was also associated with perceived responsiveness in the benefactor after an expression of gratitude. The combined influence of the two polymorphisms was associated with a broad range of gratitude-related behaviors and feelings. The consistent pattern of findings suggests that the oxytocin system is associated with solidifying the glue that binds adults into meaningful and important relationships.
Project description:Although positive emotions as a class can build interpersonal resources, recent evidence suggests a unique and direct role for gratitude. In the current research, we shine the spotlight on what happens between a grateful person and the benefactor to illuminate what can build a bridge between them. Specifically, we draw on work calling gratitude an "other-praising" emotion. In an original study and a conceptual replication that included two independent samples, couples had video-recorded conversations in which one member expressed gratitude to the other (<i>n</i> = 370). Expresser's other-praising behavior was robustly positively associated with the benefactor's postinteraction perception of expresser responsiveness, personal good feelings in general, and felt loving in particular. Several practical and theoretical alternative explanations are ruled out. By clarifying the specific behavioral and subjective psychological mechanisms through which expressed gratitude promotes relationships, this work advances affective and relationship science, two domains that cut across disciplines within psychology.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Recently several studies in the psychological and social field have investigated the social function of gift exchange as a useful way for the consolidation of interpersonal and social relationships and the implementation of prosocial behaviors. Specifically, the present research wanted to explore if gift exchange, increased emotional sharing, gratitude and interpersonal cooperation, leading to an improvement in cognitive and behavioral performance. In this regard, neural connectivity and cognitive performance of 14 pairs of friends were recorded during the development of a joint attention task that involved a gift exchange at the beginning or halfway through the task. The moment of gift exchange was randomized within the pairs: for seven couples, it happened at task beginning, for the remaining seven later. Individuals' simultaneous brain activity was recorded through the use of two electroencephalograms (EEG) systems that were used in hyperscanning. RESULTS:The results showed that after gift exchange there was an improvement in behavioral performance in terms of accuracy. For what concerns EEG, instead, an increase of delta and theta activation was observed in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) when gift exchange occurred at the beginning of the task. Furthermore, an increase in neural connectivity for delta and theta bands was observed. CONCLUSION:The present research provides a significant contribution to the exploration of the factors contributing to the strengthening of social bonds, increasing cooperation, gratitude and prosocial behavior.
Project description:Gratitude is argued to have evolved to motivate and maintain social reciprocity among people, and to be linked to a wide range of positive effects-social, psychological and even physical. But is socially reciprocal behaviour dependent on the expression of gratitude, for example by saying 'thank you' as in English? Current research has not included cross-cultural elements, and has tended to conflate gratitude as an emotion with gratitude as a linguistic practice, as might appear to be the case in English. Here, we ask to what extent people express gratitude in different societies by focusing on episodes of everyday life where someone seeks and obtains a good, service or support from another, comparing these episodes across eight languages from five continents. We find that expressions of gratitude in these episodes are remarkably rare, suggesting that social reciprocity in everyday life relies on tacit understandings of rights and duties surrounding mutual assistance and collaboration. At the same time, we also find minor cross-cultural variation, with slightly higher rates in Western European languages English and Italian, showing that universal tendencies of social reciprocity should not be equated with more culturally variable practices of expressing gratitude. Our study complements previous experimental and culture-specific research on gratitude with a systematic comparison of audiovisual corpora of naturally occurring social interaction from different cultures from around the world.
Project description:The Gratitude Questionnaire-Six Item Form (GQ-6; McCullough et al., 2002) is a well-established instrument for measuring gratitude. Recently, the Multi-Component Gratitude Measure (MCGM) was developed as a more holistic approach (Morgan et al., 2017). While the GQ-6 mainly focuses on the emotional component of gratitude, the MCGM encompasses conceptual, attitudinal, and behavioral aspects. As of today, there is no validated German measure for gratitude. In order to close that research gap, the present study focused on validating the German versions of the GQ-6 (GQ-6-G) and of the MCGM (MCGM-G). In addition, multi-group comparisons were conducted to test for cultural measurement invariance. Construct validity was tested similar to original validation studies of the two scales focusing on affect, well-being, empathy, anxiety and depression. The online survey was completed in random order by 508 participants. The one-factor model of the GQ-6-G and the hierarchical structure of the MCGM-G could be replicated. However, the model fit of the Gratitude Questionnaire was significantly better after eliminating one item (GQ-5-G). Multi-group comparisons revealed cultural measurement invariance was established for the GQ-5-G and partial measurement invariance for five of six factors of the MCGM-G, respectively. Reliability analyses revealed good internal consistency for both instruments, and measures for criterion-related and discriminant validity have shown hypothesized relationships. Thus, the GQ-5-G and the MCGM-G are two instruments with good reliability and validity for measuring gratitude in Germany.
Project description:Communion among people is easily identifiable. Close friends or relatives frequently touch each other and this physical contact helps identifying the type of relationship they have. We tested whether a friendly touch and benefits elicit the emotion of gratitude given the close link between gratitude and communal relations. In Study 1, we induced a communal mindset and manipulated friendly touch (vs. non-touch) and benefit to female participants by a female confederate. We measured pre- and post-benefit gratitude, communal feelings, and liking toward the toucher, as well as general affect. In Study 2, we manipulated mindset, friendly touch and benefit, and measured the same variables in female pairs (confederate and participants). In both studies the results showed a main effect of touch on pre-benefit gratitude: participants who were touched by the confederate indicated more gratitude than those not touched. Moreover, benefit increased gratitude toward a confederate in the absence of touch, but not in the presence of touch. Additionally, perceiving the relationship as communal, and not merely liking the confederate, or a positive mood mediated the link between touch and gratitude. The results further support a causal model where touch increases communal feelings, which in turn increase gratitude at the end of the interaction, after having received a benefit from the interaction partner. These results support a broader definition of gratitude as an emotion embodied in communal relationship cues.
Project description:Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has induced stress and anxiety. According to past studies, positive support within married couples reduces stress during diseases and disasters, but their mechanisms are unclear. To address this gap and help individuals better cope with COVID-19-related psychological distress, this study examined the relationships among daily positive support, daily gratitude, and daily stress within married couples. In this 14-day daily diary study, 54 heterosexually married couples (<i>N</i> = 108) aged 28 to 71 years participated. After reporting their demographic information at the start of the study, they reported their perceived positive support from their partner, daily stress, and feelings of gratitude at the end of each day of the study for 14 consecutive days. Using a <i>multivariate outcome, multilevel cross-classification</i>, we found that daily positive support was negatively associated with daily stress, mediated by daily feelings of gratitude. On a day when a person reported more perceived positive support than others, this person also reported a higher level of feelings of gratitude and a lower level of stress, regardless of age. We found only an actor effect, no partner effect. These findings show how greater daily positive support is linked to greater daily feelings of gratitude, which in turn is linked to less daily stress during an emergent public health crisis.<h4>Supplementary information</h4>The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10902-021-00387-0.
Project description:Differing from basic emotions such as happiness, gratitude and elevation are important other-praising emotions. Previous behavioral studies have established that these complex emotions differ from each other; however, it remains under-investigated whether proneness to these emotions have common or distinct neuroanatomical correlates. Here we used voxel-based morphometry to identify the common and distinct neuroanatomical correlates of trait (i.e. proneness to) gratitude and elevation. We used the Gratitude Questionnaire-6 and the trait elevation scale to measure these affective traits. We demonstrated that trait gratitude was positively correlated with gray matter volume (GMV) in the left cerebellum extending to fusiform gyrus, and also the right middle occipital gyrus (MOG) extending to posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) and temporoparietal junction (TPJ), while trait elevation was negatively correlated with GMV in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. While controlling each other, all the regions still held significant, except the right MOG and pSTS/TPJ. The results indicate that there are distinct neuroanatomical correlates for proneness to gratitude and elevation, while the evidence is mixed that pSTS/TPJ may be the common correlates for them. The implications of these findings are discussed.
Project description:Research into gratitude as a significant sociological and psychological phenomenon has proliferated in the past two decades. However, there is little consensus on how it should be conceptualized or investigated empirically. We present a meta-narrative review that focuses on gratitude in health care, with an emphasis on research exploring interpersonal experiences in the context of care provision. Six meta-narratives from literatures across the humanities, sciences, and medicine are identified, contextualized, and discussed: gratitude as social capital; gifts; care ethics; benefits of gratitude; gratitude and staff well-being; and gratitude as an indicator of quality of care. Meta-narrative review was a valuable framework for making sense of theoretical antecedents and findings in this developing area of research. We conclude that greater attention needs to be given to what constitutes "evidence" in gratitude research and call for qualitative studies to better understand and shape the role and implications of gratitude in health care.
Project description:We studied the relation between benefits, perception of social relationships and gratitude. Across three studies, we provide evidence that benefits increase gratitude to the extent to which one applies a mental model of a communal relationship. In Study 1, the communal sharing relational model, and no other relational models, predicted the amount of gratitude participants felt after imagining receiving a benefit from a new acquaintance. In Study 2, participants recalled a large benefit they had received. Applying a communal sharing relational model increased feelings of gratitude for the benefit. In Study 3, we manipulated whether the participant or another person received a benefit from an unknown other. Again, we found that the extent of communal sharing perceived in the relationship with the stranger predicted gratitude. An additional finding of Study 2 was that communal sharing predicted future gratitude regarding the relational partner in a longitudinal design. To conclude, applying a communal sharing model predicts gratitude regarding concrete benefits and regarding the relational partner, presumably because one perceives the communal partner as motivated to meet one's needs. Finally, in Study 3, we found in addition that being the recipient of a benefit without opportunity to repay directly increased communal sharing, and indirectly increased gratitude. These circumstances thus seem to favor the attribution of communal norms, leading to a communal sharing representation and in turn to gratitude. We discuss the importance of relational models as mental representations of relationships for feelings of gratitude.