Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 144–157

Being grateful is beyond good manners: Gratitude and motivation to contribute to society among early adolescents

Authors

    • Department of PsychologyHofstra University
  • Giacomo Bono
    • Whittier College
  • Robert Emmons
    • University of California
Original paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11031-010-9163-z

Cite this article as:
Froh, J.J., Bono, G. & Emmons, R. Motiv Emot (2010) 34: 144. doi:10.1007/s11031-010-9163-z

Abstract

Gratitude, a positive response to receiving a benefit, may contribute more to youth than just momentary happiness. It may ignite in youth a motivation for “upstream generativity” whereby its experience contributes to a desire to give back to their neighborhood, community, and world. We tested this notion by longitudinally examining early adolescents’ gratitude and their social integration, or motivation to use their strengths to help others and feel connected to others at a macro level. Middle school students (N = 700) completed measures of gratitude, prosocial behavior, life satisfaction, and social integration at baseline (T1), 3-months (T2), and 6-months (T3) later. Using bootstrapping to examine multiple mediators, controlling for demographics and social integration at T1, we found that gratitude at T1 predicted social integration at T3 and that prosocial behavior and life satisfaction at T2 mediated the relation. Further mediational analyses showed that gratitude and social integration serially enhanced each other. This prospective evidence aligns well with the interpretation that gratitude may help to initiate upward spirals toward greater emotional and social well-being. Implications are discussed in terms of gratitude’s role in positive youth development.

Keywords

GratitudeSocial integrationAdolescentsLife satisfactionProsocial behavior

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010