Gratitude and happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude and relationships with subjective well-being
Philip C. Watkins, Kathrane Woodward, Tamara Stone, and Russell L. Kolts (Eastern Washington University), 2003, 31(5), 431–452

The development late last century of positive psychology has increased interest in exploring the brighter side of our psyches: how to develop our qualities and cultivate happiness rather than only focus on how to overcome fears and limitations.

This development parallels an interest of my own. I worked for 15 years as a psychotherapist and found it helpful for clients to not only address the pain and suffering that brought them to therapy, but to also develop their strengths and qualities through connecting with what inspired and uplifted them. But does this approach really work?

One of the attributes often recommended as a counter to unhappiness is gratitude. The authors in this study were interested in establishing whether gratitude as a dispositional trait can be measured and then establishing the relationship between gratitude and subjective well-being.

They found that the Gratitude Resentment and Appreciation Test is effective as a measure of gratitude and that “grateful individuals tend to be happy and well adjusted.”

While it is possible that happiness may also enhance gratitude, and that happiness and gratitude work in a ‘cycle of virtue,’ in two of the four studies they carried out in this research, the authors found that gratitude interventions did improve mood.

This finding provides support for the practice of writing down three things we feel grateful for at the end of each day: it might be just what we need to provide a boost to our well-being.

Julie O'Brien | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal