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Recent Work on the Concept of Gratitude in Philosophy and Psychology

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  1. Robert Emmons, “The Psychology of Gratitude: An Introduction.” In R. A. Emmons and M. E. McCullough (eds.), The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 3–16, p. 3; see also T. McConnell, Gratitude (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1993), p. vii.

  2. See G. Allport, Personality: A Psychological Interpretation (New York: Holt, 1937).

  3. See H. J. Curzer, Aristotle and the Virtues (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

  4. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. T. Irwin (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1985); see also Aristotle, On Rhetoric, trans. G. A. Kennedy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991).

  5. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, op. cit., pp. 97–104 [1123a–1125a].

  6. See Thomas Nisters, “Utrum gratitudo sit virtus moralis vel passio animae or: Gratitude – An Aristotelian Virtue or an Emotion?” In R. Edmondson and K. Hülser (eds.), Politics of Practical Reasoning (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2012), pp. 65–78; see also Kristján Kristjánsson, “An Aristotelian Virtue of Gratitude” (submitted paper).

  7. See Sean McAleer, “Propositional Gratitude,” American Philosophical Quarterly vol. 49, no. 1 (2012): 55–66; see also Nathaniel Lambert, Steven Graham, and Frank Fincham, “A Prototype Analysis of Gratitude: Varieties of Gratitude Experiences,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin vol. 35, no. 9 (2009): 1193–1207.

  8. See Fred Berger, “Gratitude,” Ethics vol. 85, no. 4 (1975): 298–309.

  9. See K. Kristjánsson, Social Freedom: The Responsibility View (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), chap. 7; see also R. C. Roberts, Emotions: An Essay in Aid of Moral Psychology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), chap. 1.5.

  10. See McConnell, op. cit.; see also Robert C. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude: A Conceptual Analysis.” In R. Emmons and M. E. McCullough, op. cit., pp. 58–78.

  11. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude,” pp. 59–64.

  12. See David Carr, “Varieties of Gratitude,” The Journal of Value Inquiry (in press). Retrieved June 19, 2013, from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10790-013-9364-2/fulltext.html.

  13. See McConnell, op. cit.; see also Robert C. Roberts, “Narrative Ethics,” Philosophy Compass vol. 7, no. 3 (2012): 174–182; and Robert C. Roberts, “Generosity and Gratitude in Bleak House,” paper delivered at a Jubilee Centre Seminar, University of Birmingham, February 6th 2013.

  14. Roberts, “Narrative Ethics”; and Roberts, “Generosity and Gratitude in Bleak House.”

  15. See Aiden Gregg, Claire Hart, Constantine Sedikides, and Madoka Kumashiro, “Everyday Conceptions of Modesty: A Prototype Analysis,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin vol. 34, no. 7 (2008): 978–992.

  16. See Robert Emmons, “Queen of the Virtues? Gratitude as a Human Strength,” Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry vol. 32 (2012), p. 12. Retrieved Nov 27, 2012, from http://journals.sfu.ca/rpfs/index.php/rpfs/article/viewFile/59/58.

  17. See Michael McCullough, Robert Emmons, and Jo-Ann Tsang, “The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical Topography,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology vol. 82, no. 1 (2002): 112–127; see also Philip Watkins, Kathrane Woodward, Tamara Stone, and Russell Kolts, “Gratitude and Happiness: Development of a Measure of Gratitude, and Relationships with Subjective Well-Being,” Social Behavior and Personality vol. 31, no. 5 (2003): 431–451.

  18. See Philip Watkins, “Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being.” In R. A. Emmons and M. E. McCullough, op. cit., pp. 167–192; see also Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology vol. 84, no. 2 (2003): 377–389; and Jeffrey Froh, William Sefick, and Robert Emmons, “Counting Blessings in Early Adolescents: An Experimental Study of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being,” Journal of School Psychology vol. 46, no. 2 (2008): 213–233.

  19. See McCullough et al., op. cit.

  20. See Sarah Algoe, Jonathan Haidt, and Shelly Gable, “Beyond Reciprocity: Gratitude and Relationships in Everyday Life,” Emotion vol. 8, no. 3 (2008): 425–429; see also Monica Bartlett, Paul Condon, Jourdan Cruz, Jolie Baumann, and David DeSteno, “Gratitude: Prompting Behaviors That Build Relationships,” Cognition & Emotion vol. 26, no. 1 (2012): 2–13; and Watkins et al., op. cit.; for further explanation, see also Robert Emmons and Anjali Mishra, “Why Gratitude Enhances Well-Being: What We Know, What We Need to Know.” In K. M. Sheldon, T. B. Kashdan, and M. F. Steger (eds.), Designing Positive Psychology: Taking Stock and Moving Forward (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 248–262.

  21. See Nansook Park, Christopher Peterson, and Martin Seligman, “Strengths of Character and Well-Being,” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology vol. 23, no. 5 (2004): 603–619.

  22. See Alex Wood, Jeffrey Froh, and Adam Geraghty, “Gratitude and Well-Being: A Review and Theoretical Integration,” Clinical Psychology Review vol. 30, no. 7 (2010): 890–905; see also, K. Kristjánsson, Virtues and Vices in Positive Psychology: A Philosophical Critique (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), chap. 2.

  23. Barbara Fredrickson, “Gratitude, Like Other Positive Emotions, Broadens and Builds.” In R. A. Emmons and M. E. McCullough, op. cit., pp. 145–166.

  24. See Jeffrey Froh, Robert Emmons, Noel Card, Giacomo Bono, and Jennifer Wilson, “Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of Materialism in Adolescents,” Journal of Happiness Studies vol. 12, no. 2 (2011): 289–302; see also Emmons (2012) op. cit.

  25. See Robert Emmons and Charles Shelton, “Gratitude and the Science of Positive Psychology.” In C. R. Snyder and S. J. Lopez (eds.), Handbook of Positive Psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 459–471.

  26. See Jeffrey Froh, Giacomo Bono, and Robert Emmons, “Being Grateful is Beyond Good Manners: Gratitude and Motivation to Contribute to Society Among Early Adolescents,” Motivation and Emotion vol. 34, no. 2 (2010): 144–157; see also Emmons and Mishra, op. cit.

  27. See Emmons and McCullough, “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens,” op. cit.

  28. See Patricia White, “Gratitude, Citizenship and Education,” Studies in Philosophy and Education vol. 18, no. 1 (1999): 43–52.

  29. See Lambert, Graham, and Fincham, op. cit.

  30. Alex Wood, John Maltby, Neil Stewart, and Stephen Joseph, “Conceptualizing Gratitude and Appreciation as a Unitary Personality Trait,” Personality and Individual Differences vol. 44, no. 7 (2008): 621–632, p. 623.

  31. See Watkins et al., op. cit.

  32. Articles referring back to Emmons, 2004, op. cit.; R. A. Emmons, “Gratitude.” In M. E. P. Seligman and C. Peterson (eds.), The VIA Taxonomy of Human Strengths and Virtues (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 553–568; R. A. Emmons, Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (New York: Mariner Books, 2007); Robert Emmons and Cheryl Crumpler, “Gratitude as a Human Strength: Appraising the Evidence,” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology vol. 19, no. 1 (2000): 56–69; Emmons and McCullough, “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens,” op. cit.; Emmons and Shelton, op cit.; McCullough, Emmons and Tsang, op. cit.; Michael McCullough, Shelley Kilpatrick, Robert Emmons, and David Larson, “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?,” Psychological Bulletin vol. 127, no. 2 (2001): 249–266; Michael McCullough, Marcia Kimeldorf, and Adam Cohen, “An Adaptation for Altruism the Social Causes, Social Effects, and Social Evolution of Gratitude,” Current Directions in Psychological Science vol. 17, no. 4 (2008): 281–285; Michael McCullough, Jo-Ann Tsang, and Robert Emmons, “Gratitude in Intermediate Affective Terrain: Links of Grateful Moods to Individual Differences and Daily Emotional Experience,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology vol. 86, no. 2 (2004): 295–309.

  33. See Froh et al., “Gratitude and the Reduced Costs of Materialism in Adolescents”; Alex Wood, Stephen Joseph, and P. Alex Linley, “Coping Style as a Psychological Resource of Grateful People,” Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology vol. 26, no. 9 (2007): 1076–1093; Alex Wood, Stephen Joseph, Joanna Lloyd, and Samuel Atkins, “Gratitude Influences Sleep Through the Mechanism of Pre-sleep Cognitions,” Journal of Psychosomatic Research vol. 66, no. 1 (2009): 43–48; Wood et al., “Conceptualizing Gratitude and Appreciation as a Unitary Personality Trait,” op. cit.

  34. See Martin Seligman, Tracy Steen, Nansook Park, and Christopher Peterson, “Positive Psychology Progress: Empirical Validation of Interventions,” American Psychologist vol. 60, no. 5 (2005): 410–421; see also, Jo-Ann Tsang, “The Effects of Helper Intention on Gratitude and Indebtedness,” Motivation and Emotion vol. 30, no. 3 (2006): 198–204; Jo-Ann Tsang, Ashleigh Schulwitz, and Robert Carlisle, “An Experimental Test of the Relationship Between Religion and Gratitude,” Psychology of Religion and Spirituality vol. 4, no. 1 (2012): 40–55; and Wood et al., “Gratitude and Well-Being,” op. cit.

  35. See Anne Gordon, Dara Musher-Eizenman, Shayla Holub, and John Dalrymple, “What Are Children Thankful for? An Archival Analysis of Gratitude Before and After the Attacks of September 11th,” Journal of Applied Development Psychology vol. 25, no. 5 (2004): 541–553.

  36. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G. E. M. Anscombe (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1973), §38, 232.

  37. P. A. Bertocci and R. M. Millard, Personality and the Good: Psychological and Ethical Perspectives (New York: David McKay, 1963).

  38. McConnell, op. cit., pp. 56–61.

  39. See Liz Gulliford, “The Head and the Heart of the Matter in Hope and Forgiveness.” In F. N. Watts and G. Dumbreck (eds.), Head and Heart: Perspectives from Religion and Psychology (West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Press, in press).

  40. See Kristjánsson, Virtues and Vices in Positive Psychology, chap 1.5.

  41. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude,” p. 68.

  42. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, p. 41 [1105b–1106a].

  43. See J. Oakley, Morality and the Emotions (London: Routledge, 1992).

  44. See Nisters, op. cit.

  45. See Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude.”

  46. See McCullough et al., “The Grateful Disposition”; see also, McCullough et al., “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?”

  47. Watkins et al., op. cit.

  48. Ibid.; see also, Tsang et al., op. cit.

  49. See Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

  50. Fredrickson, op. cit.; see also, B. L. Fredrickson, Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive (New York: Crown, 2009).

  51. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude,” p. 63.

  52. Carr, op. cit.

  53. See K. Kristjánsson, Justifying Emotions: Pride and Jealousy (London: Routledge, 2002).

  54. Takashi Naito, Tomoko Matsuda, Pachongchit Intasuwan, Wiladlak Chuawanlee, Supaporn Thanachanan, Juran Ounthitiwat, and Meiko Fukushima, “Gratitude for, and Regret Toward, Nature: Relationships to Proenvironmental Intent of University Students from Japan,” Social Behavior and Personality vol. 38, no. 7 (2010): 993–1008.

  55. McCullough et al., “The Grateful Disposition.”

  56. McAleer, op. cit.

  57. P. Tillich, The Eternal Now (London: SCM, 2002), p. 126.

  58. David Steindl-Rast, “Gratitude as Thankfulness and as Gratefulness.” In R. A. Emmons and M. E. McCullough, op. cit., p. 287.

  59. McCullough et al., “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?” p. 256.

  60. Algoe et al., op. cit.

  61. Monica Bartlett and David DeSteno, “Gratitude and Prosocial Behavior,” Psychological Science vol. 17, no. 4 (2006): 319–325.

  62. McCullough et al., “The Grateful Disposition.”

  63. Watkins et al., op. cit., p. 432.

  64. See Lambert, Graham, and Fincham, op. cit., p. 1205.

  65. Nancy Fagley, “Appreciation Uniquely Predicts Life Satisfaction Above Demographics: The Big 5 Personality Factors, and Gratitude,” Personality and Individual Differences vol. 53, no. 1 (2012): 59–63; Mitchel Adler and Nancy Fagley, “Appreciation: Individual Differences in Finding Value and Meaning as a Unique Predictor of Subjective Well-Being,” Journal of Personality vol. 73, no. 1 (2005): 79–114.

  66. Adler and Fagley, op. cit.

  67. Wood, Maltby, Stewart, and Joseph, op. cit.

  68. Lambert et al., op. cit.

  69. Ibid., p. 1194.

  70. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude,” p. 65; see also, McCullough et al., “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?” p. 256.

  71. A. D. M. Walker, “Gratefulness and Gratitude,” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society vol. 81, no. 1 (1980–1981): 39–55.

  72. Steindl-Rast, op. cit., 286.

  73. A. J. Simmons, Moral Principles and Political Obligations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979).

  74. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude,” p. 64.

  75. Robert C. Roberts, “Gratitude and Generosity,” Unpublished paper, delivered at a conference on Emotion, Self, and Identity, Aarhus University, Denmark (May, 2007), p. 24.

  76. Robert C. Roberts, “What an Emotion is: A Sketch,” Philosophical Review vol. 97, no. 1 (1988): 183–209; see also, Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude,” p. 62.

  77. Steindl-Rast, op. cit., p. 284.

  78. Walker, op. cit., p. 48.

  79. McConnell, op. cit.

  80. Emmons, “The Psychology of Gratitude,” p. 5.

  81. McConnell, op. cit., p. 16.

  82. Ibid., p. 16.

  83. Ibid., chap. 1.

  84. See E. J. Harpham, “Gratitude in the History of Ideas.” In R. A. Emmons and M. E. McCullough (eds.), The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 19–36.

  85. F. Heider, The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (New York: Wiley, 1958).

  86. See Fredrickson, “Gratitude, Like Other Positive Emotions, Broadens and Builds,” p. 150.

  87. Michael McCullough and Jo-Ann Tsang, “Parent of the Virtues? The Prosocial Contours of Gratitude.” In R. A. Emmons and M. E. McCullough, op. cit., pp. 125–126.

  88. Tsang, op cit.

  89. Abraham Tesser, Robert Gatewood, and Michael Driver, “Some Determinants of Gratitude,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology vol. 9, no. 3 (1968): 233–236.

  90. Alex Wood, Stephen Joseph, and John Maltby, “Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Satisfaction with Life: Incremental Validity Above the Domains and Facets of the Five Factor Model,” Personality and Individual Differences vol. 45, no. 1 (2008): 49–54.

  91. Heider, op. cit.

  92. Berger, op. cit., p. 299.

  93. Tsang, op. cit., p. 200.

  94. Patrick Fitzgerald, “Gratitude and Justice,” Ethics vol. 109, no. 3 (1998): 119–153.

  95. Roberts, “Gratitude and Generosity.”

  96. McConnell, op. cit.

  97. Roberts, “Gratitude and Generosity,” p. 15.

  98. McConnell, op. cit., p. 24.

  99. Ibid., p. 44.

  100. McConnell, op. cit., p. 44.

  101. See Bartlett and DeSteno, op. cit.; see also McCullough et al., “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?” and McCullough and Tsang, op. cit.

  102. Roberts, “Gratitude and Generosity,” pp. 11–12.

  103. Tsang, op. cit., p. 200.

  104. Wood, Joseph, Lloyd, and Atkins, op. cit., p. 43; Tsang et al., p. 41; and Emmons and Shelton, op. cit., pp. 465, 460.

  105. Fredrickson, “Gratitude, Like Other Positive Emotions, Broadens and Builds.”

  106. Emmons, “The Psychology of Gratitude,” p. 5.

  107. Nisters, op. cit., p. 73.

  108. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude,” pp. 66–77.

  109. Martin Greenberg and David Westcott, “Indebtedness as a Mediator of Reactions to Aid.” In J. D. Fisher, A. Nadler, and B. M. de Paulo (eds.), New Directions in Helping vol. 1 (New York: Academic Press, 1983), pp. 85–106.

  110. Emmons and Crumpler, op. cit.

  111. McCullough et al., “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?”

  112. Philip Watkins, Jason Scheer, Melinda Ovnicek, and Russell Kolts, “The Debt of Gratitude: Dissociating Gratitude and Indebtedness,” Cognition & Emotion vol. 20, no. 2 (2006): 217–241.

  113. Tesser et al., op. cit.

  114. Lambert et al., op. cit.

  115. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, op. cit., pp. 97–104 [1123a–1125a].

  116. See Fredrickson, “Gratitude, Like Other Positive Emotions, Broadens and Builds,” p. 153.

  117. See K. Kristjánsson, Aristotle, Emotions, and Education (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007).

  118. Aristotle, On Rhetoric, p. 125 [1378b].

  119. Lambert et al., op. cit.

  120. See Emmons, “The Psychology of Gratitude,” p. 7; Harpham, op. cit., pp. 25–26.

  121. See Thomas Hibbs, “Creation, Gratitude and Virtue,” Journal of Law, Philosophy and Culture vol. 3, no. 1 (2009): 101–114.

  122. Berger, op. cit., p. 305.

  123. Ibid., p. 306.

  124. See Oakley, op. cit., p. 39.

  125. Fitzgerald, op. cit.

  126. Claudia Card, “Gratitude and Obligation,” American Philosophical Quarterly vol. 25, no. 2 (1988): 115–127.

  127. Christopher Wellman, “Gratitude as a Virtue,” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly vol. 80, no. 3 (1999): 284–300.

  128. Carr, op. cit.

  129. See Kristjánsson, Justifying Emotions, chap. 2.2.

  130. Rosalind Hursthouse, “Normative Virtue Ethics.” In R. Crisp (ed.), How Should One Live? Essays on the Virtues (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), pp. 19–36.

  131. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, op. cit., p. 20 [1099a].

  132. See citations in McCullough and Tsang, op. cit., p. 123; Charles Shelton, “Gratitude: Considerations from a Moral Perspective.” In R. A. Emmons and M. E. McCullough, op. cit., 259–281; Emmons, “The Psychology of Gratitude,” p. 7; Emmons, “Queen of the Virtues? Gratitude as a Human Strength”; and McConnell, op. cit., p. 3.

  133. See J. W. Ceaser, “No Thanks to Gratitude,” Policy Review vol. 170, Dec. (2011). Retrieved November 27, 2012, from http://www.hoover.org/publications/policy-review/article/100981.

  134. See Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude”; see also Roberts, “Gratitude and Generosity.”

  135. See Shelton, op. cit.

  136. McCullough et al., “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?”

  137. Adam Grant and Francesca Gino, “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology vol. 98, no. 6 (2010): 946–955.

  138. Naito et al., op. cit.

  139. Fitzgerald, op. cit.

  140. McCullough et al., “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?”

  141. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude,” pp. 66–77.

  142. Roberts, “Gratitude and Generosity.”

  143. Shelton, op. cit., p. 267.

  144. Wittgenstein, op. cit., §66.

  145. See Kristjánsson, Social Freedom.

  146. See Eleanor Rosch, “Cognitive Representations of Semantic Categories,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: General vol. 104, no. 3 (1975): 192–233; see also, Gregg et al., op. cit.

  147. Wittgenstein, op. cit., §38.

  148. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude.”

  149. Wittgenstein, op. cit., §232.

  150. Lambert et al., op. cit.

  151. Seligman et al., op. cit.

  152. Cf. Roberts, “The Blessings of Gratitude.”

  153. Lambert et al., op. cit., pp. 1194, 1205.

  154. Ibid.

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This publication was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

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Gulliford, L., Morgan, B. & Kristjánsson, K. Recent Work on the Concept of Gratitude in Philosophy and Psychology. J Value Inquiry 47, 285–317 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10790-013-9387-8

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Keywords

  • Positive Emotion
  • Prosocial Behavior
  • Virtue Ethic
  • Ordinary Language
  • Moral Virtue