The grateful are patient: Heightened daily gratitude is associated with attenuated temporal discounting

Emotion. 2016 Jun;16(4):421-5. doi: 10.1037/emo0000176. Epub 2016 Mar 28.


Past research has regularly linked the experience of affect to increased impatience and, thereby, decreased self-control. Given emerging work identifying the emotion gratitude as a fairly unique affective state capable of enhancing, rather than inhibiting, patience, the present study examined the association between chronically elevated gratitude and individual differences in temporal discounting. Participants' levels of gratitude were assessed in response to a standardized lab induction and then over a 3-week period prior to measurement of their financial patience in the form of an incentivized delay discounting task. Analyses revealed a strong relation between lab-based and naturally occurring gratitude levels, thereby confirming the validity of the daily online measures. Of import, mean levels of daily gratitude were significantly associated with increased patience in the form of decreased temporal discounting. As expected, no similar relation emerged for daily levels of happiness, thereby confirming the relative specificity of the positive state of gratitude. (PsycINFO Database Record

MeSH terms

  • Delay Discounting / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self-Control / psychology*
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult