Benefits of expressing gratitude: expressing gratitude to a partner changes one's view of the relationship

Psychol Sci. 2010 Apr;21(4):574-80. doi: 10.1177/0956797610364003. Epub 2010 Mar 5.

Abstract

This research was conducted to examine the hypothesis that expressing gratitude to a relationship partner enhances one's perception of the relationship's communal strength. In Study 1 (N = 137), a cross-sectional survey, expressing gratitude to a relationship partner was positively associated with the expresser's perception of the communal strength of the relationship. In Study 2 (N = 218), expressing gratitude predicted increases in the expresser's perceptions of the communal strength of the relationship across time. In Study 3 (N = 75), participants were randomly assigned to an experimental condition, in which they expressed gratitude to a friend, or to one of three control conditions, in which they thought grateful thoughts about a friend, thought about daily activities, or had positive interactions with a friend. At the end of the study, perceived communal strength was higher among participants in the expression-of-gratitude condition than among those in all three control conditions. We discuss the theoretical and applied implications of these findings and suggest directions for future research.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Object Attachment*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Desirability
  • Young Adult