Research Shows Gratitude Has a Drastically Positive Impact

David DeSteno: Research I conducted with the psychologist Monica Bartlett shows that gratitude doesn’t only make us repay our debts; it also encourages us to “pay it forward,” to lend a hand to others in need, even if they’re complete strangers. In related experiments, we also found that gratitude fosters generosity. People who we led to feel grateful became more willing to share their profits with others. The benefits of gratitude aren’t solely limited to making people be good Samaritans. Feeling grateful also makes us more honest. In a different experiment from my lab, we asked people to report whether a computerized coin they flipped in private came up heads or tails. Flipping heads meant they’d get more money. But unbeknownst to them, the coin was rigged to come up tails so that we could easily tell who was lying. Right before people flipped the coin, we evoked gratitude in some by asking them to count their blessings. The results were dramatic. Whereas 53 percent of people not feeling gratitude chose to cheat, that statistic dropped by half among those feeling grateful. Self-control is yet another virtue that gratitude enhances.

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