Advertisement

Journal of Happiness Studies

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 1071–1088 | Cite as

Appreciation of Others Buffers the Associations of Stressful Life Events with Depressive and Physical Symptoms

  • Nathan T. DeichertEmail author
  • Micah Prairie Chicken
  • Lexus Hodgman
Research Paper
  • 220 Downloads

Abstract

The current study is a cross-sectional examination of the stress-buffering effects of gratitude. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to examine whether various aspect of gratitude—appreciation of others, simple appreciation, and sense of abundance—functioned equivalently as stress-buffers and alleviated negative psychological and physical reactions to life events. One-hundred eighty-one college students completed self-report, retrospective measures of dispositional gratitude, depressive symptoms, and physical symptoms, as well as the amount of stressful life events experienced. Data were analyzed using multiple hierarchical regression. The results of the analyses revealed significant statistical interactions between appreciation of others, stressful life events, and both depressive and physical symptoms. Specifically, participants reporting a greater sense of appreciation of others also reported lower levels of depressive and physical symptoms when experiencing stress. Our results are consistent with previous research that demonstrates the protective health benefits of gratitude but highlights the importance of considering the unique aspects of the different components of gratitude.

Keywords

Gratitude Appreciation of others Stress-buffering Depressive symptoms Physical symptoms 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Erin Fekete, Jessica Decker, and two anonymous reviewers for their feedback on an earlier draft of this manuscript.

References

  1. Adler, M. G., & Fagley, N. S. (2005). Appreciation: Individual differences in finding value and meaning as a unique predictor of subjective well-being. Journal of Personality, 73(1), 79–114.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2004.00305.x.Google Scholar
  2. Algoe, S. B. (2012). Find, remind, and bind: The functions of gratitude in everyday relationships. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6(6), 455–469.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1751-9004.2012.00439.x.Google Scholar
  3. Algoe, S. B., Fredrickson, B. L., & Gable, S. L. (2013). The social functions of the emotion of gratitude via expression. Emotion, 13(4), 605–609.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032701.Google Scholar
  4. Algoe, S. B., Haidt, J., & Gable, S. L. (2009). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitute and relationships in everyday life. Emotion, 8(3), 425–429.  https://doi.org/10.1037/1528-3542.8.3.425.Google Scholar
  5. Allemand, M., & Hill, P. L. (2016). Gratitude from early adulthood to old age. Journal of Personality, 84(1), 21–35.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12134.Google Scholar
  6. Aspinwall, L. G., & Tedeschi, R. G. (2010). The value of positive psychology for health psychology: Progress and pitfalls in examining the relation of positive phenomena to health. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39(1), 4–15.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12160-009-9153-0.Google Scholar
  7. Aubeeluck, A., & Maguire, M. (2002). The Menstrual Joy Questionnaire items alone can positively prime reporting of menstrual attitudes and symptoms. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 160–162.Google Scholar
  8. Bartlett, M. Y., & DeSteno, D. (2015). Gratitude and prosocial behavior: Helping when it costs you. Psychological Science, 17(4), 319–325.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01705.x.Google Scholar
  9. Berkman, L. F., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social Science & Medicine, 51(6), 843–857. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10972429.
  10. Boehm, J. K., Lyubomirsky, S., & Sheldon, K. M. (2011). A longitudinal experimental study comparing the effectiveness of happiness-enhancing strategies in Anglo Americans and Asian Americans. Cognition and Emotion, 25(7), 1263–1272.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2010.541227.Google Scholar
  11. Bowling, A. (2002). Research methods in health: Investigating health and health services (2nd ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Bowling, A., & Windsor, J. (2008). Theory and method: The effects of question order and response-choice on self-rated health status in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 62(1), 81–85.Google Scholar
  13. Bränström, R. (2013). Frequency of positive states of mind as a moderator of the effects of stress on psychological functioning and perceived health. BMC Psychology, 1(1), 13.  https://doi.org/10.1186/2050-7283-1-13.Google Scholar
  14. Carlson, M. D. A., & Morrison, R. S. (2009). A user ’s guide to research in palliative care study design, precision, and validity in observational studies. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 12(1), 77–82.  https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2008.9690.Google Scholar
  15. Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist, 59(8), 676–684.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.59.8.676.Google Scholar
  16. Cohen, S., & Hoberman, H. M. (1983). Positive events and social supports as buffers of life change stress. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 13, 99–125.Google Scholar
  17. Cohen, S., & Pressman, S. D. (2006). Positive affect and health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(3), 122–125.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0963-7214.2006.00420.x.Google Scholar
  18. Cohen, S., & Wills, T. A. (1985). Stress, social support, and the buffering hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 310–357. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/98/2/310/.
  19. Crandall, C. S., Preisler, J. J., & Aussprung, J. (1992). Measuring life event stress in the lives of college students: The Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire (USQ). Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15(6), 627–662.Google Scholar
  20. Danner, D. D., Snowdon, D. A., & Friesen, W. V. (2001). Positive emotions in early life and longevity: Findings from the nun study. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80(5), 804–813.  https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.80.5.804.Google Scholar
  21. Diessner, R., & Lewis, G. (2007). Further validation of the gratitude, resentment, and appreciation test (GRAT). The Journal of Social Psychology, 147(4), 445–447.Google Scholar
  22. Ekman, P. (1992). An argument for basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02699939208411068.Google Scholar
  23. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377.Google Scholar
  24. Fagley, N. S. (2012). Appreciation uniquely predicts life satisfaction above demographics, the Big 5 personality factors, and gratitude. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 59–61.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2012.02.019.Google Scholar
  25. Folkman, S. (1997). Positive psychological states and coping with severe stress. Social Science and Medicine, 45(8), 1207–1221.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(97)00040-3.Google Scholar
  26. Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 300–319. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/gpr/2/3/300/.
  27. Fredrickson, B. L. (2001). The role of positive emotions in positive psychology: The Broaden-and-Build theory of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 56(3), 218–226.Google Scholar
  28. Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Gratitude, like other positive emotions, broadens and builds. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), The Psychology of Gratitude (pp. 145–166). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Fredrickson, B. L., & Branigan, C. (2005). Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires. Cognition and Emotion, 19(3), 313–332.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02699930441000238.Google Scholar
  30. Fredrickson, B. L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological Science, 13(2), 172–175.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9280.00431.Google Scholar
  31. Fredrickson, B. L., & Levenson, R. (1998). Positive emotions speed recovery from the cardiovascular sequelae of negative emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 12(2), 191–220.  https://doi.org/10.1080/026999398379718.Google Scholar
  32. Fredrickson, B. L., Tugade, M. M., Waugh, C. E., & Larkin, G. R. (2003). What good are positive emotions in crises? A prospective study of resilience and emotions following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 365–376.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.365.Google Scholar
  33. Frijda, N. H. (1988). The laws of emotion. American Psychologist, 43(5), 349–358.  https://doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2007.25275690.Google Scholar
  34. Froh, J. J., Fan, J., Emmons, R. A., Bono, G., Huebner, E. S., & Watkins, P. (2011). Measuring gratitude in youth: Assessing the psychometric properties of adult gratitude scales in children and adolescents. Psychological Assessment, 23(2), 311–324.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0021590.Google Scholar
  35. Froh, J. J., Yurkewicz, C., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009). Gratitude and subjective well-being in early adolescence: Examining gender differences. Journal of Adolescence, 32(3), 633–650.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adolescence.2008.06.006.Google Scholar
  36. Garbarski, D., Cate, N., & Dykema, J. (2015). The effects of response option order and question order on self-rated health. Quality of Life Research, 24, 1443–1453.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11136-014-0861-y.Google Scholar
  37. Giuse, N. B., Koonce, T. Y., Kusnoor, S. V., Prather, A. A., Gottlieb, L. M., Huang, L.-C., et al. (2017). Institute of Medicine measures of social and behavioral determinants of health: A feasibility study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 52, 199–206.Google Scholar
  38. Hobfoll, S. E., Freedy, J., Lane, C., & Geller, P. (1990). Conservation of social resources: Social support resource theory. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 7(4), 465–478.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0265407590074004.Google Scholar
  39. Holmbeck, G. (2002). Post-hoc probing of significant moderational and mediational effects in studies of pediatric populations. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 27, 87–96.Google Scholar
  40. Jans-Beken, L., Lataster, J., Leontjevas, R., & Jacobs, N. (2015). Measuring gratitude: A comparative validation of the Dutch Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ6) and Short Gratitude, Resentment, and Appreciation Test (SGRAT). Psychologica Belgica, 55(1), 19–31.  https://doi.org/10.5334/pb.bd.Google Scholar
  41. Kendler, K. S., Karkowski, L. M., & Prescott, C. A. (1999). Causal relationship between stressful life events and the onset of major depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156(June), 837–841.Google Scholar
  42. Krause, N. (2009). Religious involvement, gratitude, and change in depressive symptoms over time. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 19(3), 155–172.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10508610902880204.Religious.Google Scholar
  43. Krejtz, I., Nezlek, J. B., Michnicka, A., Holas, P., & Rusanowska, M. (2016). Counting one’s blessings can reduce the impact of daily stress. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(1), 25–39.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-014-9578-4.Google Scholar
  44. Kubacka, K. E., Finkenauer, C., Rusbult, C. E., & Keijsers, L. (2011). Maintaining close relationships: Gratitude as a motivator and a detector of maintenance behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37(10), 1362–1375.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167211412196.Google Scholar
  45. Lambert, N. M., Clark, M. S., Durtschi, J., Fincham, F. D., & Graham, S. M. (2010). Benefits of expressing gratitude: Expressing gratitude to a partner changes one’s view of the relationship. Psychological Science, 21(4), 574–580.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797610364003.Google Scholar
  46. Lambert, N. M., Graham, S. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2009). A prototype analysis of gratitude: Varieties of gratitude experiences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(9), 1193–1207.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167209338071.Google Scholar
  47. Lietz, P. (2010). Research into questionnaire design: A summary of the literature. International Journal of Market Research, 52(2), 249–272.Google Scholar
  48. Lin, C. C. (2014a). A higher-order gratitude uniquely predicts subjective well-being: Incremental validity above the personality and a single gratitude. Social Indicators Research, 119, 909–924.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-013-0518-1.Google Scholar
  49. Lin, C. C. (2014b). The effect of higher-order gratitude on mental well-being: Beyond personality and unifactoral gratitude. Current Psychology, 119, 909–924.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-015-9392-0.Google Scholar
  50. Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803–855.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803.Google Scholar
  51. Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224–253.Google Scholar
  52. McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R., & Tsang, J.-A. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(1), 112–127.  https://doi.org/10.1037//0022-3514.82.1.112.Google Scholar
  53. McCullough, M. E., Kimeldorf, M. B., & Cohen, A. D. (2008). An adaptation for altruism? The social causes, social effects, and social evoluation of gratitude. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(4), 281–285.Google Scholar
  54. McCullough, M. E., Tsang, J.-A., & Emmons, R. A. (2004). Gratitude in intermediate affective terrain: Links of grateful moods to individual differences and daily emotional experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 295–309.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.86.2.295.Google Scholar
  55. Ng, M., & Wong, W. (2013). The differential effects of gratitude and sleep on psychological distress in patients with chronic pain. Journal of Health Psychology, 18(2), 263–271.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105312439733.Google Scholar
  56. Ong, A. D., Bergeman, C. S., Bisconti, T. L., & Wallace, K. A. (2006). Psychological resilience, positive emotions, and successful adaptation to stress in later life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4), 730–749.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.91.4.730.Google Scholar
  57. Pressman, S. D., & Cohen, S. (2012). Positive emotion word use and longevity in famous deceased psychologists. Health Psychology, 31(3), 297–305.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026071.Google Scholar
  58. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D Scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.  https://doi.org/10.1177/014662167700100306.Google Scholar
  59. Reckart, H., Scott Huebner, E., Hills, K. J., & Valois, R. F. (2017). A preliminary study of the origins of early adolescents’ gratitude differences. Personality and Individual Differences, 116, 44–50.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.020.Google Scholar
  60. Redwine, L. S., Henry, B. L., Pung, M. A., Wilson, K., Chinh, K., Knight, B., et al. (2016). Pilot randomized study of a gratitude journaling intervention on heart rate variability and inflammatory biomarkers in patients with Stage B heart failure. Psychosomatic Medicine, 78(6), 667–676.  https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000316.Google Scholar
  61. Richman, L. S., Kubzansky, L., Maselko, J., Kawachi, I., Choo, P., & Bauer, M. (2005). Positive emotion and health: Going beyond the negative. Health Psychology, 24(4), 422–429.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-6133.24.4.422.Google Scholar
  62. Rosenberg, E. L. (1998). Levels of analysis and the organization of affect. Review of General Psychology, 2(3), 247–270.Google Scholar
  63. Ruini, C., & Vescovelli, F. (2013). The role of gratitude in breast cancer: Its relationships with post-traumatic growth, psychological well-being and distress. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(1), 263–274.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-012-9330-x.Google Scholar
  64. Santini, Z. I., Koyanagi, A., Tyrovolas, S., Mason, C., & Haro, J. M. (2015). The association between social relationships and depression: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 175, 53–65.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.12.049.Google Scholar
  65. Scandell, D. J., Wlazelek, B., Bentelspacher, C. E., Rees, K. S., & Thomas, S. L. (2018). Effects of questionnaire order on self-reported sexual behavior, risk perceptions, and ratings of HIV and STD protection strategies. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 15, 53–67.  https://doi.org/10.1300/J056v15n01_05.Google Scholar
  66. Shimai, S., Otake, K., Park, N., Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2006). Convergence of character strengths in American and Japanese young adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7(3), 311–322.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-005-3647-7.Google Scholar
  67. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  68. Toepfer, S. M., Cichy, K., & Peters, P. (2012). Letters of gratitude: Further evidence for author benefits. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(1), 187–201.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-011-9257-7.Google Scholar
  69. Tourangeau, R., & Rasinski, K. (1988). Cognitive processes underlying context effects in attitude measurement. Psychological Bulletin, 103, 299–314.Google Scholar
  70. Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 320–333.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.86.2.320.Resilient.Google Scholar
  71. Uchino, B. N. (2006). Social support and health: A review of physiological processes potentially underlying links to disease outcomes. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29(4), 377–387.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-006-9056-5.Google Scholar
  72. Uchino, B. N. (2009). Understanding the links between social support and physical health of perceived and received support. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4(3), 236–255.Google Scholar
  73. Uchino, B. N., Carlisle, M., Birmingham, W., & Vaughn, A. A. (2011). Social support and the reactivity hypothesis: Conceptual issues in examining the efficacy of received support during acute psychological stress. Biological Psychology, 86(2), 137–142.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.04.003.Google Scholar
  74. Wang, D., Wang, Y. C., & Tudge, J. R. H. (2015). Expressions of gratitude in children and adolescents: Insights from China and the United States. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 46, 1039–1058.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0022022115594140.Google Scholar
  75. Washizu, N., & Naito, T. (2015). The emotions sumanai, gratitude, and indebtedness, and their relations to interpersonal orientation and psychological well-being among Japanese university students. International Perspectives in Psychology: Research, Practice, Consultation, 4(3), 1–14.  https://doi.org/10.1037/ipp0000037M4-Citavi.Google Scholar
  76. Watkins, P. C., Woodward, K., Stone, T., & Kolts, R. L. (2003). Gratitude and happiness: Development of a measure of gratitude, and relationships with subjective well-being. Social Behavior and Personality, 31(5), 431–452. Retrieved from http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/sbp/sbp/2003/00000031/00000005/art00001
  77. Wood, A. M., Froh, J. J., & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration. Clinical Psychology Review, 30(7), 890–905.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2010.03.005.Google Scholar
  78. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Coping style as a psychological resource of grateful people. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26(9), 1076–1093.  https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2007.26.9.1076.Google Scholar
  79. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., Lloyd, J., & Atkins, S. (2009). Gratitude influences sleep through the mechanism of pre-sleep cognitions. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 66(1), 43–48.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.09.002.Google Scholar
  80. Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008a). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42(4), 854–871.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2007.11.003.Google Scholar
  81. Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Stewart, N., & Joseph, S. (2008). Conceptualizing gratitude and appreciation as a unitary personality trait. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 619–630. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886907003431.
  82. Xu, J., & Roberts, R. E. (2010). The power of positive emotions: It’s a matter of life or death—Subjective well-being and longevity over 28 years in a general population. Health Psychology, 29(1), 9–19.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0016767.Google Scholar
  83. Zhang, L., Zhang, S., Yang, Y., & Li, C. (2017). Attachment orientations and dispositional gratitude: The mediating roles of perceived social support and self-esteem. Personality and Individual Differences, 114, 193–197.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.006.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathan T. Deichert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Micah Prairie Chicken
    • 2
  • Lexus Hodgman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBlack Hills State UniversitySpearfishUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North DakotaGrand ForksUSA

Personalised recommendations