Capitalizing on Positive Emotional Experiences: A Gratitude Intervention as an Emotional Uplift Strategy
Term of Award
Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.)
Document Type and Release Option
Dissertation (open access)
Copyright Statement / License for Reuse
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Department of Psychology
Committee Member 1
Committee Member 2
Positive psychological interventions are well suited to build upon positive experiences to enhance positive affect and coping resources; however, experimental research is limited, especially regarding if and how gratitude practices can bolster positive affect and coping resources. As a result, the purpose of the current research was to determine (a) if self-reports of gratitude traits vary by important demographic categories (i.e., gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, rural status), (b) if gratitude interventions elevate reports of positive affect after accounting for the effects of positive memory recall, and (c) if gratitude interventions contribute to greater elevations on coping resources (i.e., resilience, coping self-efficacy) after accounting for the effects of positive memory recall. The study was completed in two phases with samples of university students. Results indicated significant gender and socioeconomic status (SES) differences on gratitude. Specifically, women reported higher gratitude traits compared to men and participants who described their SES as “high” reported greater levels of gratitude traits compared to participants who described their SES as “low”. Results also revealed a significant time x memory recall interaction effect, where individuals who participated in the positive memory recall group reported substantially higher scores on positive affect compared to individuals in the memory control group. However, a non-significant memory recall X gratitude intervention X time effect was revealed, which suggests participating in the gratitude intervention did not contribute to any additive effects on positive affect after accounting for the effects of memory recall. In terms of resilience, individuals who participated in the positive memory recall group reported substantially higher scores on resilience compared to individuals in the memory control group. However, results revealed a non-significant gratitude main effect and a non-significant memory recall X intervention interaction effect. Only non-significant effects were revealed for coping self-efficacy. Overall, these results suggest individuals who participated in the positive memory recall task received a subsequent boost in positive affect and resilience. However, participation in a gratitude intervention did not generate any additive benefits to positive psychological resources. Such findings represent a significant extension to research on memory recall and offer some direction for future research for gratitude interventions as a mechanism to bolster positive psychological resources.
Walker, Amanda L., "Capitalizing on Positive Emotional Experiences: A Gratitude Intervention as an Emotional Uplift Strategy" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1639.
Research Data and Supplementary Material