Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life

Robert A. Emmons, Michael E. McCullough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1336 Scopus citations

Abstract

The effect of a grateful outlook on psychological and physical well-being was examined. In Studies 1 and 2, participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 experimental conditions (hassles, gratitude listing, and either neutral life events or social comparison); they then kept weekly (Study 1) or daily (Study 2) records of their moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, and overall life appraisals. In a 3rd study, persons with neuromuscular disease were randomly assigned to either the gratitude condition or to a control condition. The gratitude-outlook groups exhibited heightened well-being across several, though not all, of the outcome measures across the 3 studies, relative to the comparison groups. The effect on positive affect appeared to be the most robust finding. Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)377-389
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume84
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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