Based on the framework of the broaden-and-build theory (Fredrickson in Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 359(1449):1367, 2004a, b), we proposed that the emotion of gratitude generates upstream reciprocity (UR, which is helping an unrelated third party after being helped) by broadening the beneficiary’s perspective toward others and thus making the beneficiary represent the benefactor and newly encountered strangers in the same social category. Furthermore, by inducing one UR after another, gratitude may lead to a chain/network of UR and strengthen the structure of organization. We named the effect the integration function of gratitude and demonstrated it by applying the social network analysis technique to eighteen small groups. Implications of the integration function are discussed in terms of self-identity, social exchange theory, and quality of life.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Downstream reciprocity, which denotes the ordinary reciprocity, is also defined in contrast to its upstream counterpart.
The original English GQ-6 used a 7-point scale, but we changed it to a 5-point scale to fit the original course survey.
We did not rule out the possibilities of other interactions between dispositional gratitude and well-being; however, the three mechanisms proposed by McCullough et al. (2002) are all mediation models built on emotional gratitude.
Though the strong–weak distinction is based on tie strength (Granovetter 1973) whereas Putnam’s (2001) bonding-bridging classification is for the function of tie, we believe the both analytical schemes share the same spirit toward the importance of information flow and the openness to new experience. Hence we will not differentiate them further; they are interchangeable in the current paper.
Song and Lin (2011) originally used the word social capital instead of social network. They distinguished two schools of social capital and restricted the paper by defining social capital as network connectivity. Therefore we replace social capital with network to make the article more straightforward.
Algoe, S. B., & Haidt, J. (2009). Witnessing excellence in action: The ‘other-praising’ emotions of elevation, gratitude, and admiration. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(2), 105–127.
Algoe, S. B., Haidt, J., & Gable, S. L. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion, 8(3), 425–429.
Bartlett, M. Y., & DeSteno, D. (2006). Gratitude and prosocial behavior: Helping when it costs you. Psychological Science, 17(4), 319–325.
Batson, C. D., Lishner, D. A., Carpenter, A., Dulin, L., Harjusola-Webb, S., Stocks, E. L., et al. (2003). “As you would have them do unto you”: Does imagining yourself in the other’s place stimulate moral action? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(9), 1190–1201. doi:10.1177/0146167203254600.
Batson, C. D., Lishner, D. A., Cook, J., & Sawyer, S. (2005). Similarity and nurturance: Two possible sources of empathy for strangers. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 27(1), 15–25.
Batson, C. D., & Moran, T. (1999). Empathy-induced altruism in a prisoner’s dilemma. European Journal of Social Psychology, 29(7), 909–924.
Blau, P. M. (1964). Exchange and power in social life (1st ed.). New York: Wiley.
Blau, P. M. (1994). Structural contexts of opportunities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Buck, R. (2002). The genetics and biology of true love: Prosocial biological affects and the left hemisphere. Psychological Review, 109(4), 739–744. doi:10.1037//0033-295x.109.4.739.
Buck, R., & Ginsburg, B. (1997). Communicative genes and the evolution of empathy. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 807(1), 481–483.
Chang, Y.-P., & Lin, Y.-C. (2009). The transmission of gratitude and indebtedness within groups: A social network perspective. (NSC 97–2815-C-002–140-H). Taiwan: National Science Council.
Durkheim, É. (1960). De la division du travail social. Presses universitaires de France.
Ekeh, P. P. (1974). Social exchange theory: The two traditions. London: Heinemann.
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.
Erickson, B. H. (2008). Good networks and good jobs: The value of social capital to employers and employees. In N. Lin, K. Cook, & R. S. Burt (Eds.), Social capital: Theory and research (4th ed., pp. 127–158). New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Fischer, C. S. (2005). Bowling alone: What’s the score? [Book Review]. Social Networks, 27(2), 155–167. doi:10.1016/j.socnet.2005.01.009.
Fischer, C. S., Stueve, C., Jones, L. M., Jackson, R. M., Gerson, K., & Baldassare, M. (1977). Networks and places: Social relations in the urban setting. New York: Free Press.
Fredrickson, B. L. (2004a). The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 359(1449), 1367.
Fredrickson, B. L. (2004b). Gratitude, like other positive emotions, broadens and builds. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), The psychology of gratitude (pp. 145–166). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Fredrickson, B. L., & Branigan, C. (2005). Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires. Cognition & Emotion, 19(3), 313–332.
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.
Gaertner, S. L., & Dovidio, J. F. (2009). A common ingroup identity: A categorization-based approach for reducing intergroup bias. In T. Nelson (Ed.), Handbook of prejudice (pp. 489–505). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Giacalone, R. A., Paul, K., & Jurkiewicz, C. L. (2005). A preliminary investigation into the role of positive psychology in consumer sensitivity to corporate social performance. Journal of Business Ethics, 58(4), 295–305.
Gouldner, A. W. (1960). The norm of reciprocity: A preliminary statement. American Sociological Review, 25(2), 161–178.
Granovetter, M. (1973). Strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6), 1360–1380.
Granovetter, M. (1983). The strength of weak ties: A network theory revisited. Sociological theory, 1(1), 201–233.
Granovetter, M. (2003). Social science: Ignorance, knowledge, and outcomes in a small world. Science, 301(5634), 773.
Greenberg, M. S., & Shapiro, S. P. (1971). Indebtedness: An adverse aspect of asking for and receiving help. Sociometry, 34(2), 290–301.
Henrich, J., Boyd, R., Bowles, S., Camerer, C., Fehr, E., Gintis, H., et al. (2001). In search of homo economicus: Behavioral experiments in 15 small-scale societies. American Economic Review, 91(2), 73–78.
Hofstede, G., & Bond, M. H. (1984). Hofstede’s culture dimensions. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 15(4), 417.
Horvat, E. M. N., Weininger, E. B., & Lareau, A. (2003). From social ties to social capital: Class differences in the relations between schools and parent networks. American Educational Research Journal, 40(2), 319.
Huang, L.-L. (1999). Interpersonal harmony and conflict: Indigenous theory and research. Taipei: Laurel.
Hwang, K.-K. (2000). Chinese relationalism: Theoretical construction and methodological considerations. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 30(2), 155–178.
Hwang, K.-K. (2006a). Constructive realism and confucian relationalism: An Epistemological strategy for the development of indigenous psychology. In U. Kim, K.-S. Yang, & K.-K. Hwang (Eds.), Indigenous and cultural psychology: Understanding people in context (pp. 73–107). New York, NY: Springer Science + Business Media.
Hwang, K.-K. (2006b). Moral face and social face: Contingent self-esteem in Confucian society. International Journal of Psychology, 41(4), 276–281.
Jackson, M., & Richie, L. (1985). We are the world: Columbia Records.
Johnson, K. J., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2005). “We all look the same to me”: Positive emotions eliminate the own-race bias in face recognition. Psychological Science, 16(11), 875–881.
Kashdan, T. B., Uswatte, G., & Julian, T. (2006). Gratitude and hedonic and eudaimonic well-being in Vietnam war veterans. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(2), 177–199.
Kiyonari, T., Tanida, S., & Yamagishi, T. (2000). Social exchange and reciprocity: Confusion or a heuristic? Evolution and Human Behavior, 21(6), 411–427.
Lehmann, L., & Keller, L. (2006). The evolution of cooperation and altruism-a general framework and a classification of models. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 19(5), 1365.
Lévi-Strauss, C. (1969). The raw and the cooked (1st ed., Vol. 1). New York: Harper & Row.
Lin, N. (1999). Social networks and status attainment. Annual Review of Sociology, 25, 467–487.
McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J.-A. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(1), 112–127.
McCullough, M. E., Kilpatrick, S. D., Emmons, R. A., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Is gratitude a moral affect? Psychological Bulletin, 127(2), 249–266.
McCullough, M. E., Kimeldorf, M. B., & Cohen, A. D. (2008). An adaptation for altruism? The social causes, social effects, and social evolution of gratitude. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 17(4), 281–285.
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 experience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(2), 295–309.
Michie, S. (2009). Pride and gratitude: How positive emotions influence the prosocial behaviors of organizational leaders. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 15(4), 393–403.
Nowak, M. A., & Roch, S. (2007). Upstream reciprocity and the evolution of gratitude. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 274(1610), 605.
Nowak, M. A., & Sigmund, K. (2005). Evolution of indirect reciprocity. Nature, 437(7063), 1291–1298.
Patulny, R. V., & Svendsen, G. L. H. (2007). Exploring the social capital grid: bonding, bridging, qualitative, quantitative. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 27(1/2), 32–51.
Pfeiffer, T., Rutte, C., Killingback, T., Taborsky, M., & Bonhoeffer, S. (2005). Evolution of cooperation by generalized reciprocity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 272(1568), 1115.
Putnam, R. (2001). Social capital: Measurement and consequences. Canadian Journal of Policy Research, 2(1), 41–51.
Rutte, C., & Taborsky, M. (2007). Generalized reciprocity in rats. Plos Biology, 5(7), 1421–1425.
Scott, J. (2000). Social network analysis. Thousands Oaks: SAGE Publications.
Song, L., & Lin, N. (2009). Social capital and health inequality: Evidence from Taiwan. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 50(2), 149.
Song, L., & Lin, N. (2011). Social capital adn health: An introduction. In N. Lin (Ed.), Social capital (Vol. 3, pp. 229–231). Routledge.
Stanton-Salazar, R. D., & Dornbusch, S. M. (1995). Social capital and the reproduction of inequality: Information networks among Mexican-origin high school students. Sociology of Education, 68(2), 116–135.
Tsang, J.-A. (2007). Gratitude for small and large favors: A behavioral test. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 2(3), 157–167.
Wasserman, S., & Faust, K. (1994). Social network analysis. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Watkins, P. C. (2004). Gratitude and subjective well-being. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), The psychology of gratitude (pp. 167–192). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Watkins, P. C., Grimm, D. L., & Kolts, R. (2004). Counting your blessings: Positive memories among grateful persons. Current Psychology, 23(1), 52–67.
Waugh, C. E., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2006). Nice to know you: Positive emotions, self-other overlap, and complex understanding in the formation of a new relationship. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(2), 93–106.
This study was supported by a grant form the National Science Council to Yen-Ping Chang (NSC 97-2815-C-002-140-H), Yi-Cheng Lin (NSC 99-2410-H-002-082), and Lung Hung Chen (NSC 100-2410-H-179 -007). We are grateful for the anonymous reviewer’s comments to improve the quality of our manuscript.
About this article
Cite this article
Chang, YP., Lin, YC. & Chen, L.H. Pay It Forward: Gratitude in Social Networks. J Happiness Stud 13, 761–781 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-011-9289-z