Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 17–36 | Cite as

Can Gratitude and Kindness Interventions Enhance Well-Being in a Clinical Sample?

  • Shelley L. Kerr
  • Analise O’Donovan
  • Christopher A. Pepping
Research Paper


Grounded in Fredrickson’s (Rev Gen Psychol 2(3):300–319, 1998) broaden and build model of positive emotions, the current study examines the efficacy of 2-week self-administered gratitude and kindness interventions within a clinical sample on a waiting-list for outpatient psychological treatment. Results demonstrate that we can reliably cultivate the emotional experiences of gratitude but not kindness in this brief period. Further, both the gratitude and kindness interventions built a sense of connectedness, enhanced satisfaction with daily life, optimism, and reduced anxiety compared to a placebo condition. These brief interventions did not impact on more overarching constructs, including general psychological functioning and meaning in life. These findings demonstrate that gratitude and kindness have a place in clinical practice; not just as end states, but as emotional experiences that can stimulate constructive change. Further, these strategies can serve as useful pre-treatment interventions that may reduce the negative impact of long waiting times before psychological treatment.


Gratitude Kindness Interventions Treatment Clinical sample Broaden and build 



We gratefully thank Jennifer Wilson for her helpful statistical advice.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shelley L. Kerr
    • 2
  • Analise O’Donovan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Christopher A. Pepping
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Griffith Health InstituteGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.School of Applied PsychologyGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Behavioral Basis of HealthGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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