To have and to hold: gratitude promotes relationship maintenance in intimate bonds

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2012 Aug;103(2):257-74. doi: 10.1037/a0028723. Epub 2012 May 28.


This multimethod series of studies merges the literatures on gratitude and risk regulation to test a new process model of gratitude and relationship maintenance. We develop a measure of appreciation in relationships and use cross-sectional, daily experience, observational, and longitudinal methods to test our model. Across studies, we show that people who feel more appreciated by their romantic partners report being more appreciative of their partners. In turn, people who are more appreciative of their partners report being more responsive to their partners' needs (Study 1), and are more committed and more likely to remain in their relationships over time (Study 2). Appreciative partners are also rated by outside observers as relatively more responsive and committed during dyadic interactions in the laboratory, and these behavioral displays are one way in which appreciation is transmitted from one partner to the other (Study 3). These findings provide evidence that gratitude is important for the successful maintenance of intimate bonds.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Object Attachment
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Young Adult