Living with Gratitude: Spouse’s Gratitude on One’s Depression

Abstract

Research has shown that gratitude makes people happier (McCullough and Tsang in Psychol Gratitude, Oxford University Press, pp 123–141, 2004; Wood et al. in Clin Psychol Rev 30(7):890–905, 2010), healthier (McCullough et al. in J Pers Soc Psychol, 86(2):295–309, 2004), more considerate (Bartlett and DeSteno in Psychol Sci 17(4):319–325, 2006), and better evaluated (Gordon et al. in Pers Individ Differ 50(3):339–343, 2011), enabling more stable relationships (Algoe et al. in Pers Relationsh 17(2):217–233, 2010; Algoe et al. in Emotion 8(3):425–429, 2008; Lambert et al. in Psychol Sci 21(4):574–580, 2010). However, no study has extended research beyond individual persons to investigate the impact of one’s gratitude on the mental well-being of those who surround her or him. Thus, we tested this possibility and found in Study 1 that within marriage, husbands’ depositional gratitude negatively correlated with their wives’ depressive emotion. The results of Study 2 validated Study 1 by showing that a wife’s depression would be relatively palliated if her husband was assigned to express appreciation to her and not share daily hassles. While a causal relationship was demonstrated as hypothesized, a difference between genders also emerged. We discuss in particular the latter in terms of its mechanism, limitations, and practical implications for marriage.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We applied a path analysis with observed variables instead of the one with latent variables (SEM) because the ratio of the sample size to the number of free parameters failed to meet the recommendation of 10:1 (Tabachnick and Fidell 2007). In addition, there were concerns with the method of parceling for SEM because no matter how we set up the rule of parceling, there would always be ambiguity as to how many items should be included in one set and the way to choose which items should be grouped together.

  2. 2.

    The CES-D in Study 1 was on a 4-point scale. However, as for the GQ-T used in Study 2, we gave the CES-D in Study 2 a 5-point scale to unify the form of measurements in Study 2.

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Acknowledgments

This work was granted by National Science Council, Taiwan to Tsui-Shan Li (NSC 96-2413-H-030 -002 -MY3, NSC 99-2410-H-030 -037 -MY3) and Lung Hung Chen (NSC 100-2410-H-179 -007). In addition, Lung Hung Chen’s work on gratitude is supported by the Ministry of Education (2012 project of elastic salary for outstanding teacher), Taiwan.

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Correspondence to Tsui-Shan Li or Lung Hung Chen.

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Chang, YP., Li, TS., Teng, H.Y. et al. Living with Gratitude: Spouse’s Gratitude on One’s Depression. J Happiness Stud 14, 1431–1442 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-012-9389-4

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Keywords

  • Gratitude
  • Depression
  • Marriage
  • Relationship
  • Well-being