Gratitude and Life Satisfaction in the United States and Japan

Research Paper

Abstract

Being grateful has been associated with many positive outcomes, including greater happiness, positive affect, optimism, and self-esteem. There is limited research, however, on the associations between gratitude and different domains of life satisfaction across cultures. The current study examined the associations between gratitude and three domains of life satisfaction, including satisfaction in relationships, work, and health, and overall life satisfaction, in the United States and Japan. A total of 945 participants were drawn from two samples of middle aged and older adults, the Midlife Development in the United States and the Midlife Development in Japan. There were significant positive bivariate associations between gratitude and all four measures of life satisfaction. In addition, after adjusting for demographics, neuroticism, extraversion, and the other measures of satisfaction, gratitude was uniquely and positively associated with satisfaction with relationships and life overall but not with satisfaction with work or health. Furthermore, results indicated that women and individuals who were more extraverted and lived in the United States were more grateful and individuals with less than a high school degree were less grateful. The findings from this study suggest that gratitude is uniquely associated with specific domains of life satisfaction. Results are discussed with respect to future research and the design and implementation of gratitude interventions, particularly when including individuals from different cultures.

Keywords

Gratitude United States Japan Life satisfaction Relationship satisfaction Cross cultural 

References

  1. Algoe, S. B., Fredrickson, B. L., & Gable, S. L. (2013). The social functions of the emotion of gratitude via expression. Emotion. doi:10.1037/a0032701.Google Scholar
  2. Algoe, S. B., Haidt, J., & Gable, S. L. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.8.3.425.Google Scholar
  3. Algoe, S. B., & Way, B. M. (2014). Evidence for a role of the oxytocin system, indexed by genetic variation in CD38, in the social bonding effects of expressed gratitude. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. doi:10.1093/scan/nst182.Google Scholar
  4. Bjälkebring, P., Västfjäll, D., & Johansson, B. (2013). Regulation of experienced and anticipated regret for daily decisions in younger and older adults in a Swedish one-week diary study. GeroPsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry. doi:10.1024/1662-9647/a000102.Google Scholar
  5. Calasanti, T. M. (1996). Gender and life satisfaction in retirement: An assessment of the male model. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 51(1), 18–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Campbell, A., Converse, P. E., & Rodgers, W. L. (1976). The quality of American life: Perceptions, evaluations, and satisfactions. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  7. Carstensen, L. L., Fung, H. H., & Charles, S. T. (2003). Socioemotional selectivity theory and the regulation of emotion in the second half of life. Motivation and Emotion. doi:10.1023/A:1024569803230.Google Scholar
  8. Chan, D. W. (2011). Burnout and life satisfaction: Does gratitude intervention make a difference among Chinese school teachers in Hong Kong? Educational Psychology. doi:10.1080/01443410.2011.608525.Google Scholar
  9. Chen, L. H., Kee, Y. H., & Chen, M. (2014). Why grateful adolescent athletes are more satisfied with their life: The mediating role of perceived team cohesion. Social Indicators Research. doi:10.1007/s11205-014-0798-0.Google Scholar
  10. Chen, F.-M., & Li, T.-S. (2007). Marital enqing: An examination of its relationship to spousal contributions, sacrifices, and family stress in Chinese marriages. The Journal of Social Psychology. doi:10.3200/SOCP.147.4.393-412.Google Scholar
  11. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  12. Costa, P. T., & McCrae, R. R. (1980). Influence of extraversion and neuroticism on subjective well-being: Happy and unhappy people. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.38.4.668.Google Scholar
  13. Diener, E. (1984). Subjective well-being. Psychological Bulletin, 95(3), 542–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larsen, J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessmemt, 49(1), 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Diener, E., Suh, E. M., Smith, H., & Shao, L. (1995). National differences in reported subjective well-being: Why do they occur? Social Indicators Research. doi:10.1007/BF01078966.Google Scholar
  16. 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. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377.Google Scholar
  17. Froh, J. J., Yurkewicz, C., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009). Gratitude and subjective well-being in early adolescence: Examining gender differences. Journal of Adolescence. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2008.06.006.Google Scholar
  18. Furukawa, E., Tangney, J., & Higashibara, F. (2012). Cross-cultural continuities and discontinuities in shame, guilt, and pride: A study of children residing in Japan, Korea and the USA. Self and Identity. doi:10.1080/15298868.2010.512748.Google Scholar
  19. Gino, F., & Schweitzer, M. E. (2008). Blinded by anger or feeling the love: How emotions influence advice taking. The Journal of Applied Psychology. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.93.5.1165.Google Scholar
  20. Gordon, C. L., Arnette, R. A. M., & Smith, R. E. (2011). Have you thanked your spouse today?: Felt and expressed gratitude among married couples. Personality and Individual Differences. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.10.012.Google Scholar
  21. Gordon, A. M., Impett, E. A., Kogan, A., Oveis, C., & Keltner, D. (2012). To have and to hold: Gratitude promotes relationship maintenance in intimate bonds. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi:10.1037/a0028723.Google Scholar
  22. Heller, D., Watson, D., & Ilies, R. (2004). The role of person versus situation in life satisfaction: A critical examination. Psychological Bulletin. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.4.574.Google Scholar
  23. Hill, P. L., & Allemand, M. (2011). Gratitude, forgivingness, and well-being in adulthood: Tests of moderation and incremental prediction. The Journal of Positive Psychology. doi:10.1080/17439760.2011.602099.Google Scholar
  24. Kashdan, T. B., Mishra, A., Breen, W. E., & Froh, J. J. (2009). Gender differences in gratitude: Examining appraisals, narratives, the willingness to express emotions, and changes in psychological needs. Journal of Personality. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00562.x.Google Scholar
  25. Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., Ko, D., & Taylor, S. E. (2006). Pursuit of comfort and pursuit of harmony: Culture, relationships, and social support seeking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. doi:10.1177/0146167206291991.Google Scholar
  26. Kitayama, S., Markus, H. R., & Kurokawa, M. (2000). Culture, emotion, and well-being: Good feelings in Japan and the United States. Cognition and Emotion. doi:10.1080/026999300379003.Google Scholar
  27. Kong, F., Ding, K., & Zhao, J. (2014). The relationships among gratitude, self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction among undergraduate students. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi:10.1007/s10902-014-9519-2.Google Scholar
  28. Lachman, M. E., & Weaver, S. L. (1997). The midlife development inventory (MIDI) personality scales: Scale construction and scoring. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University.Google Scholar
  29. Lambert, N. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2011). Expressing gratitude to a partner leads to more relationship maintenance behavior. Emotion. doi:10.1037/a0021557.Google Scholar
  30. Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., Stillman, T. F., & Dean, L. R. (2009). More gratitude, less materialism: The mediating role of life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology. doi:10.1080/17439760802216311.Google Scholar
  31. Layous, K., Lee, H., Choi, I., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). Culture matters when designing a successful happiness-increasing activity: A comparison of the United States and South Korea. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. doi:10.1177/0022022113487591.Google Scholar
  32. Lin, C.-C., & Yeh, Y. (2014). How gratitude influences well-being: A structural equation modeling approach. Social Indicators Research. doi:10.1007/s11205-013-0424-6.Google Scholar
  33. Lucas, R. E., & Donnellan, M. B. (2012). Estimating the reliability of single-item life satisfaction measures: Results from four national panel studies. Social Indicators Research. doi:10.1007/s11205-011-9783-z.Google Scholar
  34. Mccullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. A. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.82.1.112.Google Scholar
  35. 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. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.86.2.295.Google Scholar
  36. Meeks, S., & Murrell, S. A. (2015). Contribution of education to health and life satisfaction in older adults mediated by negative affect. Journal of Aging And Health, 13(1), 92–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mroczek, D. K., & Kolarz, C. M. (1998). The effect of age on positive and negative affect : A developmental perspective on happiness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(5), 1333–1349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Prenda, K. M., & Lachman, M. E. (2001). Planning for the future: A life management strategy for increasing control and life satisfaction in adulthood. Psychology and Aging. doi:10.1037//0882-7974.16.2.206.Google Scholar
  39. Ryff, C. D., Kitayam, S., Karasawa, M., Markus, H., Kawakami, N., & Coe, C. (2011). Survey of midlife development in Japan (MIDJA). Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). doi:10.3886/ICPSR30822.v2.
  40. Ryff, C.D., Seeman, T., & Weinstein, M. (2013). National survey of midlife development in the United States (MIDUS II): Biomarker project. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). doi: 10.3886/ICPSR29282.v6.
  41. Sandvik, E., Diener, E., & Seidlitz, L. (1993). Subjective well-being: The convergence and stability of self-report and non-self-report measures. Journal of Personality. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.1993.tb00283.x.Google Scholar
  42. Schimmack, U., & Oishi, S. (2005). The influence of chronically and temporarily accessible information on life satisfaction judgments. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.89.3.395.Google Scholar
  43. Sharpley, C. F. (1982). A psychometric evaluation of the Spanier Dyadic Adjustment Scale. Journal of Marriage and Family, 44(3), 739–741.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stoeckel, M., Weissbrod, C., & Ahrens, A. (2014). The adolescent response to parental illness: The influence of dispositional gratitude. Journal of Child and Family Studies. doi:10.1007/s10826-014-9955-y.Google Scholar
  45. Sun, P., Jiang, H., Chu, M., & Qian, F. (2014). Gratitude and school well-being among Chinese university students: Interpersonal relationships and social support as mediators. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 42(10), 1689–1698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Szcześniak, M., & Soares, E. (2011). Are proneness to forgive, optimism and gratitude associated with life satisfaction? Polish Psychological Bulletin, 42(1), 20–23. doi:10.2478/v10059-011-0004-z.Google Scholar
  47. Toussaint, L., & Friedman, P. (2009). Forgiveness, gratitude, and well-being: The mediating role of affect and beliefs. Journal of Happiness Studies. doi:10.1007/s10902-008-9111-8.Google Scholar
  48. 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: An International Journal. doi:10.2224/sbp.2003.31.5.431.Google Scholar
  49. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2008a). Gratitude uniquely predicts satisfaction with life: Incremental validity above the domains and facets of the five factor model. Personality and Individual Differences. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2008.02.019.Google Scholar
  50. Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Stewart, N., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008b). A social-cognitive model of trait and state levels of gratitude. Emotion. doi:10.1037/1528-3542.8.2.281.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

Personalised recommendations