Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 343-360

First online:

Is gratitude an alternative to materialism?

  • Emily L. PolakAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Miami
  • , Michael E. McCulloughAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Miami Email author 

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Materialistic strivings have been implicated as a cause of unhappiness. Gratitude, on the other hand – both in its manifestations as a chronic affective trait and as a more temporary emotional experience – may be a cause of happiness. In the present paper we review the empirical research on the relationships among materialism, gratitude, and well-being. We present new correlational data on the gratitude–materialism relationship and propose that gratitude may have the potential to reduce materialistic strivings and consequently diminish the negative effects of materialistic strivings on psychological well-being. We conclude with some recommendations for future research on the relationships among gratitude, materialism, and well-being.


gratitude happiness materialism positive psychology