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Positive Psychology in Practice: Promoting Human Flourishing in Work, Health, Education, and Everyday Life, 2nd Edition by Stephen Joseph

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Chapter 33The Power and Practice of Gratitude

GIACOMO BONO, MIKKI KRAKAUER AND JEFFREY J. FROH

Authors' Note. Preparation of this chapter was supported by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

A central tenet of research in positive psychology is that supportive social relationships are essential to human thriving. Gratitude is perfectly suited to this end. Gratitude is the feeling people experience when they receive a gift or benefit from another person. It can also be an attitude of appreciating life as a gift. People with a grateful disposition tend to experience it more frequently, more intensely, toward more people, and for more things in their life at any given moment (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002). We begin this chapter with a brief review of basic research on gratitude, focusing first on adult populations and then on youth populations. We then turn to applied research pertaining to clinical purposes for adults and academic purposes for youth. Finally, we discuss how gratitude is related to the “good life” for adults and youth and close with suggestions for future research directions. It is our contention that gratitude is important for positively transforming individuals, families, and organizations.

A Brief History of Research on Gratitude

Social scientists have focused on gratitude since the 1930s (Baumgarten-Tramer, 1938; Bergler, 1945, 1950; Gouldner, 1960; Heider, 1958; Schwartz, 1967; Simmel, 1950). Though it has been considered fundamental ...

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