The value of gratitude has been recognized by numerous religious, philosophical, and cultural traditions. Empirical psychological research suggests that gratitude promotes relationships, health, and happiness. Yet most studies fail to distinguish between two relatively distinct types of gratitude ("gratitude to" and "gratitude for") and tend to focus on individuals (i.e., "actors") who (1) recall gratitude in their minds or (2) share it with their benefactors-while often conflating these two separate processes by labeling them both "expressions" of gratitude. Such studies also neglect other key players in gratitude exchanges. Do the benefits of gratitude extend to those who receive it ("targets") and those who observe it ("witnesses")?
Across 5 studies, we seek to understand how gratitude and its underlying mechanisms (e.g., increasing social connectedness) and well-being outcomes (e.g., life satisfaction) differ based on whether people are (1) recalling it, (2) sharing it, (3) receiving it, and/or (4) witnessing it.
We will disseminate our findings by publishing in major journals, presenting at international conferences, and communicating with leading media outlets. Our project is positioned to fundamentally change well-being science and realign gratitude with its foundational core by demonstrating that sharing gratitude within dynamic social networks has well-being implications not only for the self, but also for others.