357 Gratitude & Well-being

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Research by Kumar, A. & Epley, N. (2018).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

Have you ever not expressed gratitude to someone, because you felt awkward or didn’t know how the other would respond?! Research suggests that people like receiving compliments and thank yous and their well-being is improved. Then, what stops us from expressing it?

University of Chicago researchers suggested that an egocentric bias tends to limit others’ expression of gratitude. To test this theory, three experiments were conducted. Each experiment varied in the number of participants and settings. Yet, each experiment did a variation of the same methods. The expresser voiced their gratitude, then completed a questionnaire predicting how awkward, surprised, or happy the recipient would be. Lastly, researchers asked recipients how they felt about receiving the appreciation.

Results? Those expressing gratitude underestimated how surprised and positive recipients would feel and overestimated their own feelings of awkwardness. Greater feelings of awkwardness and mood led to their being less willing to show appreciation!

Don’t underestimate the value of expressing gratitude! Giving gratitude improves our own feelings and relationships, and other’s well-being. Don’t wait to show your appreciation, just do it! Practice will make it easier.  Make a positive impact on yourself and most importantly, the other person!

Reference: Kumar, A. & Epley, N. (2018). Undervaluing gratitude: Expressers misunderstand the consequences of showing appreciation. Psychological Science, 29(9), 1423 – 1435.

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About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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