What Is Gratitude and How Can It Be Measured?

  • Philip C. Watkins
Chapter

Abstract

In this chapter I attempt to provide an adequate definition and description of gratitude. After a brief exploration of the history of the words grateful and thankful, I provide an outline of Rosenberg’s (Rev Gen Psychol 2:247–270, 1998) typology for the study of emotional phenomena. Following her approach, I begin by providing a definition of gratitude as an emotional state, and then I review research that speaks to the thought/action tendencies of grateful emotion. I move on to an extensive discussion of gratitude as affective trait, followed by a more brief review of the research relating to grateful mood. I conclude the definitional section of this chapter by discussing the relationship of gratitude to appreciation. An important aspect of operationalizing gratitude is being able to measure the construct, and I spend considerable space describing the various self-report and behavioral measures that have been used to measure gratitude. Indirect measures of gratitude would be valuable, and I describe how development of such measures might be pursued. I conclude by presenting a discussion contrasting indebtedness with gratitude. Although indebtedness and gratitude have often been treated as redundant constructs, research shows that these two states and traits should be distinguished.

Keywords

Character Strength Affective Trait Mood Level Dispositional Gratitude Grateful Individual 
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.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip C. Watkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyEastern Washington UniversityCheneyUSA

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