Cultivating An Attitude Of Gratitude: Testing Moderators Of The Effects Of A Gratitude Diary Intervention On Well-being And Interpersonal Outcomes
In the past few years, evidence has amassed suggesting that gratitude interventions can have a number of personal and interpersonal benefits (for a review, see Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010). For instance, gratitude interventions may lead to increases in body satisfaction (Geraghty, Wood, Hyland, 2010a), positive affect, prosocial behavior, as well as decreased physical health problems (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). The purpose of this study was to replicate previous findings by showing that a gratitude diary intervention could improve participants’ psychological and physical well-being as well as decrease their indirect aggression. A second aim of this study was to test whether individuals who scored highly on personality measures of curiosity and desire for character growth would benefit more from the gratitude intervention, than individuals who scored low on these measures. Participants first completed an online survey containing the relevant personality measures as well as measures of well-being and aggression (time 1 assessment). Participants were then randomly assigned to one of three diary conditions in which they either wrote about things for which they were grateful (experimental condition), hassles, or minor details from their lives. After finishing the diary phase of the study, participants completed an online survey that contained all the same measures as the pre-diary survey (time 2 assessment). The gratitude intervention did not lead to improvements in the proposed outcomes and these effects were not consistently moderated by curiosity and desire for character growth. However, preliminary results regarding the Desire for Character Growth Scale (DCGS), which was specifically created for this study, suggested that this measure is psychometrically sound and demonstrates good predictive validity. Desire for character growth measured at time 1 had a positive relationship with gratitude at time 2, even after controlling for gratitude and social desirability at time 1. Furthermore desire for character growth predicted happiness at time 2 controlling for happiness at time 1 and this relationship was mediated by changes in gratitude. In addition, a strong sense of self at time 1 predicted happiness at time 2, even after controlling for happiness at time 1 and other relevant predictors. Future research should further investigate the role of sense of self in well-being as well as the psychometric properties of the DCGS and its ability to predict growth with regard to virtues beyond gratitude.