Gratitude Intervention in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

  • Nathaniel M. LambertEmail author
  • Amanda Veldorale-Brogan


There is a burgeoning research literature on gratitude and its effect on mental health and relationship well-being. However, very little research has examined gratitude among children and adolescents and intervention focused research among these groups. The intervention studies among children and adolescents conducted to this point have focused on mental health, academic outcomes, and social integration. We focus on intervention research among children, adolescents, and young adults and provide suggestions and for improving this research through stronger control conditions, less reliance on self-report, and increasing the use of mediators and moderators. We also provide directions for future research in this area including increased examination of what develops gratitude in children and adolescents and how gratitude might improve the parent/child relationship, taking the type of gratitude into account when designing interventions, and examining the potential role of gratitude to God in gratitude interventions.


Life Satisfaction Positive Affect Prosocial Behavior Social Integration School Satisfaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adler, M., & Fagley, N. (2005). Appreciation: Individual differences in finding value and meaning as a unique predictor of subjective well-being. Journal of Personality, 73(1), 79–114.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Algoe, S., & Haidt, J. (2009). Witnessing excellence in action: The other-praising emotions of elevation, admiration, and gratitude. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 105–127.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Algoe, S., Haidt, J., & Gable, S. (2008). Beyond reciprocity: Gratitude and relationships in everyday life. Emotion, 8, 425–429.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bartlett, M. Y., & DeSteno, D. (2006). Gratitude and prosocial behavior: Helping when it costs you. Psychological Science, 17, 319–325.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. DeSteno, D., Bartlett, M., Baumann, J., Williams, L., & Dickens, L. (2010). Gratitude as moral sentiment: Emotion-guided cooperation in economic exchange. Emotion, 10, 289–293.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Elmore, G., & Huebner, E. S. (2010). Adolescent’s satisfaction with school experiences: Relationships with demographics, attachment relationships and school engagement. Psychology in the Schools, 47(6), 525–537.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Emmons, R. A. (2004). The psychology of gratitude: An introduction. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), The psychology of gratitude (pp. 3–16). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Emmons, R. A., & Kneezel, T. T. (2005). Giving thanks: Spiritual and religious correlates of gratitude. Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 24, 140–148.Google Scholar
  9. Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: Experimental studies of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Emmons, R. A., & Shelton, C. S. (2002). Gratitude and the science of positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 459–471). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46, 213–233.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Froh, J. J., Kashdan, T. B., Ozimkowski, K. M., & Miller, N. (2009a). Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining positive affect as a moderator. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 408–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Froh, J. J., Yurkewicz, C., & Kashdan, T. B. (2009b). Gratitude and subjective well-being in early adolescence: Examining gender differences. Journal of Adolescence, 32, 633–650.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Froh, J. J., Bono, G., & Emmons, R. A. (2010). Being grateful is beyond good manners: Gratitude and motivation to contribute to society among early adolescents. Motivation & Emotion, 34, 144–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Froh, J. J., Emmons, R. A., Card, N. A., Bono, G., & Wilson, J. (2011). Gratitude and the reduced costs of materialism in adolescents. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 289–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gable, S., Reis, H., Impett, E., & Asher, E. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 228–245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Harpham, E. (2004). Gratitude in the history of ideas. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), The psychology of gratitude (pp. 19–36). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Hoff, D., Andersen, A., & Holstein, B. (2010). Poor school satisfaction and number of cannabis using peers within school classes as individual risk factors for cannabis use among adolescents. School Psychology International, 31(5), 547–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huebner, E. S., & Gilman, R. (2006). Students who like and dislike school. Applied Research in Quality of Life, 1, 139–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kenny, D. A. (1990). Design issues in dyadic research. In C. Hendrick & M. S. Clark (Eds.), Review of personality and social psychology: Research methods in personality and social psychology (Vol. 11, pp. 164–184). Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  21. Kenny, D. A. (1996). Models of nonindependence in dyadic research. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 13, 279–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kenny, D. A., & Cook, W. (1999). Partner effects in relationship research: Conceptual issues, analytic difficulties, and illustrations. Personal Relationships, 6, 433–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kenny, D. A., Kashy, D. A., Cook, W. L., & Simpson, J. A. (2006). Dyadic data analysis. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  24. Komorita, S. S., Hilty, J. A., & Parks, C. D. (1991). Reciprocity and cooperation in social dilemmas. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 48, 494–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., Braithwaite, S. R., Graham, S. M., & Beach, S. R. H. (2009a). Can prayer increase gratitude? Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 1, 39–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., Stillman, T. F., & Dean, L. (2009b). More gratitude, less materialism: The mediating role of life satisfaction. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 32–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lambert, N. M., Graham, S. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2009c). A prototype analysis of gratitude: Varieties of gratitude experiences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1193–1207.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lambert, N. M., Clarke, M. S., Durtschi, J. A., Fincham, F. D., & Graham, S. M. (2010). Benefits of expressing gratitude for the expresser: An examination of gratitude’s contribution to perceived communal strength. Psychological Science, 21, 574–580.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., & Graham, S. M. (2011a). Feeling comfortable voicing concerns in a relationship: The role of gratitude. Emotion, 11, 52–60.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., Gwinn, A. M., & Ajayi, C. (2011b). The fourth pillar of positive psychology: Positive relationships. In K. Sheldon, T. Kashdan, & M. Steger (Eds.), Designing the future of positive psychology: Taking stock and moving forward. Oxford: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Lambert, N. M., Brown, P., Coyne, Walker. L., & Fincham, F. D. (2012). Family recreation and gratitude. Unpublished Manuscript.Google Scholar
  32. Lambert, N. M., Gwinn, A. M., Baumeister, R. F., Fincham, F. D., Gable, S. L., Stachman, A., & Washburn, I. J. (2013). A boost of positive affect: The perks of sharing positive and grateful experiences. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 30, 24–43.Google Scholar
  33. Langston, C. A. (1994). Capitalizing on and coping with daily-life events: Expressive responses to positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 1112–1125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. McCullough, M. E., Kilpatrick, S. D., Emmons, R. A., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Is gratitude a moral affect? Psychological Bulletin, 127, 249–266.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 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, 281–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Neto, F. (2007). Forgiveness, personality and gratitude. Personality and Individual Differences, 43(8), 2313–2323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Roberts, R. (2004). The blessings of gratitude: A conceptual analysis. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), The psychology of gratitude (pp. 282–291). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410–421.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sheldon, K. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2006). How to increase and sustain positive emotion: The effects of expressing gratitude and visualizing best possible selves. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 73–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Steindl-Rast, D. (2004). Gratitude as thankfulness and gratefulness. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), The psychology of gratitude (pp. 282–291). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A. (2007). Coping style as a psychological resource of grateful people. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26(9), 1076–1093.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2008). The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress, and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality, 42, 854–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2009). Gratitude predicts psychological well-being above the big five facets. Personality and Individual Differences, 46, 443–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Youniss, J., Yates, M., & Su, Y. (1997). Social integration: Community service and marijuana use in high school seniors. Journal of Adolescent Research Special Issue: Adolescent Socialization in Context: Connection, Regulation, and Autonomy in Multiple Contexts, 12(2), 245–262.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nathaniel M. Lambert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Amanda Veldorale-Brogan
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Family LifeBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Family and Child Services, College of Human SciencesThe Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

Personalised recommendations