Positive News Is Contagious: This study shows that positive news stories can be an emotional contagion in massive social networks

Abstract: Happiness and other emotions spread between people in direct contact, but it is unclear whether massive online social networks also contribute to this spread. Here, we elaborate a novel method for measuring the contagion of emotional expression. With data from millions of Facebook users, we show that rainfall directly influences the emotional content of their status messages, and it also affects the status messages of friends in other cities who are not experiencing rainfall. For every one person affected directly, rainfall alters the emotional expression of about one to two other people, suggesting that online social networks may magnify the intensity of global emotional synchrony.

Sharing Positivity: This study shows that reading other people’s positive posts triggered happiness in 64% of people.

Abstract: On Facebook, users are exposed to posts from both strong and weak ties. Even though several studies have examined the emotional consequences of using Facebook, less attention has been paid to the role of tie strength. This paper aims to explore the emotional outcomes of reading a post on Facebook and examine the role of tie strength in predicting happiness and envy. Two studies – one correlational, based on a sample of 207 American participants and the other experimental, based on a sample of 194 German participants – were conducted in 2014. In Study 2, envy was further distinguished into benign and malicious envy. Based on a multi-method approach, the results showed that positive emotions are more prevalent than negative emotions while browsing Facebook. Moreover, tie strength is positively associated with the feeling of happiness and benign envy, whereas malicious envy is independent of tie strength after reading a (positive) post on Facebook.

Gratitude and a Happy Marriage

Amie Gordon, a psychologist from U.C. Berkeley, has a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology explores the role of gratitude and appreciation in maintaining long and healthy relationships. In the study, 50 committed couples were given a week to fill out appreciation journals. On days when one partner reported feeling more appreciated, he or she tended to appreciate his or her partner more the next day. Couples who had ongoing reciprocal appreciation were less likely to break up in the next nine months and even reported being more committed at the end of that time. The researchers concluded that a nourishing cycle of encouragement and appreciation provides extra incentive to maintain our relationships. In other words, when we appreciate our partners, we develop trust and respect. When we feel appreciated, we feel needed and encouraged.

Friendly touch increases gratitude by inducing communal feelings

Abstract: Communion among people is easily identifiable. Close friends or relatives frequently touch each other and this physical contact helps identifying the type of relationship they have. We tested whether a friendly touch and benefits elicit the emotion of gratitude given the close link between gratitude and communal relations. In Study 1, we induced a communal mindset and manipulated friendly touch (vs. non-touch) and benefit to female participants by a female confederate. We measured pre- and post-benefit gratitude, communal feelings, and liking toward the toucher, as well as general affect. In Study 2, we manipulated mindset, friendly touch and benefit, and measured the same variables in female pairs (confederate and participants). In both studies the results showed a main effect of touch on pre-benefit gratitude: participants who were touched by the confederate indicated more gratitude than those not touched. Moreover, benefit increased gratitude toward a confederate in the absence of touch, but not in the presence of touch. Additionally, perceiving the relationship as communal, and not merely liking the confederate, or a positive mood mediated the link between touch and gratitude. The results further support a causal model where touch increases communal feelings, which in turn increase gratitude at the end of the interaction, after having received a benefit from the interaction partner. These results support a broader definition of gratitude as an emotion embodied in communal relationship cues.

Do Men Have a Gratitude Problem?

Men, in general, are less grateful than women. Here’s why that may be a problem. While we all likely know super-grateful men and unthankful women, research suggests that men, on average, are less grateful than women. For example, a 2012 survey of 2,000 Americans, commissioned by the John Templeton Foundation, found evidence of a gratitude gender gap: “Women are more likely than men to express gratitude on a regular basis (52 percent women/44 percent men), feel that they have much in life to be thankful [for] (64 percent women/50 percent of men), and express gratitude to a wider variety of people.”

Effect of Gratitude on Benign and Malicious Envy: The Mediating Role of Social Support

Abstract: Gratitude has been investigated in various areas in psychology. The present research showed that gratitude had some positive effects on some aspects of our life, such as subjective well-being, life satisfaction, and social relationships. It can also help us relieve negative emotions. However, the existing literature has not studied the influence of gratitude on envy. The present study used structural equation modeling to test the mediating role of social support between gratitude and two types of envy (malicious and benign). We recruited 426 Chinese undergraduates to complete the Gratitude Questionnaire, Malicious and Benign Envy Scales, and the Multi-Dimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support. Results showed that gratitude positively predicted benign envy and negatively predicted malicious envy. In addition, the indirect effect of gratitude on two types of envy via social support was significant. These results revealed the direct relationship between gratitude and malicious/benign envy, and the mediating effect of social support, which will contribute to find effective measures to inhibit malicious envy and promote benign envy from the perspective of cultivating gratitude and increasing individuals social support.

How to Foster Little Moments of Gratitude with Your Kids

A new study investigates how everyday parent-child interactions help cultivate gratitude. To some extent, raising grateful kids is a long-term practice. It involves helping them develop strong relationships and empathy toward others, and mindfulness of the good things in their life. But can everyday, simple actions help us foster gratitude in our kids, too? This was the subject of a recent study by Andrea Hussong and her colleagues, and they found that parents may indeed have the ability to influence their children’s gratitude on a micro level—day in and day out.

Gratitude and Well Being

The word “gratitude” has a number of different meanings, depending on the context. However, a practical clinical definition is as follows—gratitude is the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; it is a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. The majority of empirical studies indicate that there is an association between gratitude and a sense of overall well being. However, there are several studies that indicate potential nuances in the relationship between gratitude and well being as well as studies with negative findings. In terms of assessing gratitude, numerous assessment measures are available. From a clinical perspective, there are suggested therapeutic exercises and techniques to enhance gratitude, and they appear relatively simple and easy to integrate into psychotherapy practice. However, the therapeutic efficacy of these techniques remains largely unknown. Only future research will clarify the many questions around assessment, potential benefits, and enhancement of gratitude.