Gratitude is known to be related to an optimistic and grateful outlook towards life and involves a positive predisposition in interpreting collective events throughout society. (Wood, Maltby, Gillett, Linley & Joseph, 2008) Typically, loneliness exists when a person’s social networks are fewer than expected and less satisfying than that person desires (Peplau & Caldwell, 1978). Researchers hypothesized that gratitude and loneliness have a negatively correlated relationship. This study looks at seventy participants that completed the gratitude questionnaire: six item scale (McCullough, Emmons & Tsang, 2002) and UCLA loneliness scale, version 3 (Russell, 1996). Results did not support researcher’s hypothesis, as they indicated that gratitude and loneliness are not significantly correlated, r (68) = -.206, p = .087. A strong significance could be demonstrated with further research if researchers heed limitations within this study as gratitude provides as an effective interventional tool in promoting pro-social behavior (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
Keywords: gratitude, loneliness, well-being, relationship, social connections
The Correlation between Gratitude and Loneliness
Gratitude is defined as the positive emotion an individual feels when another person has deliberately given, or attempted to give, something of value (Bartlett, Condon, Cruz, Baumann & Desteno, 2012). Often gratitude is used as a positive psychological development tool to promote social support, reduce stress, depression and feelings of loneliness (Wood, Maltby, Gillett, Linley & Joseph, 2008). Loneliness is explained as an intense feeling of solitude creating an individual to display extreme emotions ranging from unexplained dread, desperation and restlessness (Peplau, 1955). Typically, loneliness exists when a person’s social networks are fewer than expected and less satisfying than that person desires (Peplau & Caldwell, 1978). Previous research looks at these two variables separately as they influence ones wellbeing. Stemming off their investigations, this proposal seeks to looks at gratitude as it directly correlates to the feelings of loneliness to determine if the two variables relate to one another.
A recent article investigated gratitude’s direct role in facilitating and strengthening social relationships beyond generous behavior (Bartlett et al., 2012). By using two individual studies, researchers tempted to prove that gratitude plays a vital role in building and maintaining social interaction. The desire to spend more time with another person is a key component in building new relationships and fostering existing ones; study one provides this support for gratitude’s capability to build and maintain these relationships by manipulating the social decisions that people make. Within study two, findings support researchers’ hypothesis showing that gratitude promotes social behavior even in the face of cost (Bartlett et al, 2012). A study by Emmons and McCullough (2003), examined the effects of a grateful attitude on psychological and physical well-being. During the first study, participants showed more optimism and consistent improvements in their global well-being during their journal entries. Within the second study, the more gratitude felt not only increased the participant’s positive affect but decreased their negative outlook. Both studies indicated that gratitude intervention not only improves individual health by increasing the amount and quality of sleep participants receive but produces a positive effect on mental thinking. Overall, Emmons and McCullough (2003) concluded that with conscious focus on individual blessings the more interpersonal and emotional benefits one will endure. In another article researchers looked at previous studies to determine if individual ambivalence over emotional expression related to personal gratitude and well-being indexes (Chen, L., Chen, M., & Tsai, 2012)....
References: Karademas, E. (2006). Self-efficacy, social support and well-being: The mediating role of optimism. Personality and Individual Differences. 40 (6), 1281-1290. http://dx.doi.org.proxy.library.vcu.edu/10.1016/j.paid.2005.10.019
Peplau, H. (1955). Loneliness. The American Journal of Nursing, 55 (12), 1476-1481
Russell, D. (1996). The UCLA loneliness scale (version 3): Reliability, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 66, 20-40.
Wood, A.M., Maltby, J., Gillett, R., Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S., (2008) The role of gratitude in the development of social support, stress and depression: Two longitudinal studies. Journal of Research in Personality,42(4), 854-871
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