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Is Gratitude Always Beneficial to Interpersonal Relationships? The Interplay of Grateful Disposition, Grateful Mood, and Grateful Expression Among Married Couples.

Authors
  • Leong, Joyce L T1
  • Chen, Sylvia Xiaohua2
  • Fung, Helene H L3
  • Bond, Michael Harris2
  • Siu, Nicolson Y F4
  • Zhu, Jay Yijie2
  • 1 J&L Research and Consultancy, Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
  • 2 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
  • 3 The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
  • 4 Hong Kong Shue Yan University, Hong Kong. , (Hong Kong SAR China)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Personality & social psychology bulletin
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2020
Volume
46
Issue
1
Pages
64–78
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/0146167219842868
PMID: 31046594
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

A growing body of research has documented positive outcomes of gratitude in personal and interpersonal domains. To uncover the dynamic process of gratitude and relational well-being, we examined the interplay of grateful disposition, grateful mood, and grateful expression in ongoing close relationships. Hong Kong Chinese couples (n = 100) participated in a three-wave study across three consecutive weeks. Adopting the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model, we found that at Time 1, grateful disposition not only predicted one's own grateful mood but also the perceived grateful mood of one's spouse, both of which predicted marital satisfaction. At Time 2, the couples were randomly assigned to two conditions over 2 weeks: having one spouse keeping a private gratitude journal or overtly expressing gratitude to the other. Couples' grateful mood increased at Time 3, indicating the effectiveness of both interventions. However, the resulting changes in marital satisfaction differed for the beneficiaries (enactors) and benefactors (targets), such that husbands who perceived their wife's expressed gratitude as less sincere declined in their marital satisfaction. The results reveal the boundary conditions in evaluating expressions of gratitude and improvement of relationships and provide implications for social exchange and couple therapy.

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