Most research on gratitude has been conducted with WEIRD populations, limiting our ability to generalize findings to non-WEIRD populations. To cross the next scientific frontier of gratitude research, we will need to conduct systematic tests, using archived and novel data, of the within- and between-culture variability in the causes and correlates of gratitude. This proposal draws on existing synergies for a highly efficient and effective three-year project that wastes no time producing four streams of data.
Strand 1 will include a meta-analysis of gratitude intervention studies outside the US, the first-ever large-scale cross-cultural replication study of highly influential gratitude interventions, and a cross-cultural dictionary analysis of "gratitude" and "Thank you." Strand 2 will feature preliminary experimental work across multiple labs to start the lengthy process of creating cross-cultural measures of state and trait gratitude that, pending further development, may permit valid cross-cultural comparisons. Strand 3 will utilize existing anthropological databases to produce a comprehensive, thick description of gratitude across cultures, and will solicit culturally-specific descriptions of gratitude from contemporary anthropologists and historians. Stand 4 will create and promote the use of a Gratitude Dataverse and network through a program of events and grants aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of existing datasets and expanding the field of gratitude researchers.
At the end of this project, we will have: (1) an understanding of the efficacy of gratitude interventions across cultures; (2) new measures of state and trait gratitude to enable valid cross-cultural comparisons; (3) an extensive survey of anthropological data on gratitude; (4) a permanent database for gratitude datasets to live in and form the backbone of future scientific inquiry; and (5) a roadmap for how to investigate the next set of high-priority research questions on gratitude.