Within-Person Relationships Among Daily Gratitude, Well-Being, Stress, and Positive Experiences

Abstract

Each day for 2 weeks, participants (N = 131, psychologically healthy adults residing in the community) described their daily well-being, how grateful they felt that day, and the events they experienced. Multilevel modeling analyses found that daily feelings of gratitude were positively related to well-being at the within-person level. The analyses also found that well-being varied as a joint function of daily gratitude and how stressful events were. Gratitude moderated relationships between stress and self-esteem, worry, depressogenic adjustment, and negative deactive affect (e.g., sad). The negative relationships between the stress of daily events and self-esteem and depressogenic adjustment were weaker on days when people felt more grateful than on days when they felt less grateful as were the positive relationships between stress and worry and negative deactive affect. The analyses also found that relationships between gratitude and worry, depressogenic adjustment, and negative deactive affect were stronger on days when daily events were less positive than on days when daily events were more positive. The possibility that feelings of gratitude can provide a context within which daily experience is evaluated is discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Given that the number of events people reported varied meaningfully both within-persons (from day to day) and between-persons we thought this should be taken into account in the analyses. For example, the mean stress score for two different days could both be 7, but for 1 day this could reflect the mean stress for 2 events, whereas for another day it could reflect the stress for 8 events. Weighting the day level observations by the number of events took this into account. Nonetheless, the results of analyses that did not weight level-1 observations were similar to the results reported in the text. We presented the results of the weighted analyses because we thought they were more appropriate.

  2. 2.

    When the interaction term in the analysis of PD was modeled as randomly varying, the coefficient for the interaction was significant, and the pattern of predicted means was similar to the predicted means for self-esteem and the triad measure. The random error term for the interaction was not significant however (p > .20), which meant that random effect for the interaction term should be deleted from the model. Although this provided a result contrary to our hypothesis, deleting the random error term was consistent with recommendations for best practice (e.g., Nezlek 2001).

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Acknowledgements

Support for this research was provided by the Foundation for Polish Science, Bridge Grant Program: BIS/2011-3/2 to Iza Krejtz and by a grant to John B. Nezlek from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, Council for International Exchange of Scholars.

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Nezlek, J.B., Krejtz, I., Rusanowska, M. et al. Within-Person Relationships Among Daily Gratitude, Well-Being, Stress, and Positive Experiences. J Happiness Stud 20, 883–898 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-018-9979-x

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Keywords

  • Gratitude
  • Daily well-being
  • Buffering effect
  • Stress
  • Diary study
  • Multilevel modeling