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Insights into gratitude from open-ended qualitative interviews

Cooper, SA 2014 , 'Insights into gratitude from open-ended qualitative interviews', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Research within the relatively new scientific field of gratitude has rapidly expanded over the last decade and a half, inspired by strong positive links with well-being and mental health. There is currently a lack of consensus as to how the term gratitude is defined and conceptualised, and the field lacks a solid theoretical basis. The aim of the current project was to obtain a deeper understanding of the experiences or things for which people are grateful, and the underlying cognitive processes which underpin their gratitude experience. Open ended qualitative interviews were conducted individually with 12 undergraduate students. Participants were asked to talk about "things or experiences" which they considered beneficial. To reduce the likelihood of socially desirable responding, the terms "gratitude" and "appreciation" were not used. Thematic analysis revealed three main domains in which gratitude was experienced: Close Personal Relationships (including sub themes of Family and Friends); Adversity and Personal Change (including sub themes of Self and Others); and Self Development Pursuits. Within these themes, the capacity for gratitude to change over time was apparent. Exploration of the specific cognitive appraisals associated with participants' gratitude experiences led to the modification and extension of an existing model of gratitude. The modified model represents the cognitive appraisals which can underpin the experience of general gratitude, and is not limited to prototypical gratitude which involves the deliberate act of another. The model can also account for changes in gratitude over time in relation to a particular phenomenon. Potential applications for research findings to inform the development of more informative gratitude measures and targeted gratitude interventions are discussed.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Cooper, SA
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Copyright 2013 the author

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