An Investigation into Gratitude and its Effects
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Extrapolating from personal experience as well as experience working with clients, gratitude interventions are hypothesized by the author to increase positive affect, decrease negative affect and increase the possibility of clients taking new steps in their lives. The broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions is seen to be integral to understanding how gratitude as an emotion broadens awareness and encourages exploratory thoughts and actions. A background understanding of the function of both negative and positive emotions is laid out as a foundation for the literature review that follows. The evidence for gratitude’s impact on well-being as a causal agent, and indirectly as a buffer against negative states, is evaluated. Empirical studies showed that gratitude does indeed increase well-being and decrease negative affect and also appears to act as a buffer against depression-like symptoms. Findings suggest that gratitude interventions would be a worthy adjunct to interventions focusing on difficulties and problems. The need for further research is discussed, regarding the efficacy of particular gratitude interventions and the connection between gratitude and trauma.