A grateful heart is a nonviolent heart: Cross-sectional, experience sampling, longitudinal, and experimental evidence

C. Nathan Dewall, Nathaniel M. Lambert, Richard S. Pond, Todd B. Kashdan, Frank D. Fincham

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

Five studies tested the hypothesis that gratitude is linked to lower levels of aggression. Although gratitude increases mental well-being, it is unknown whether gratitude mitigates against aggression. Gratitude motivates people to express sensitivity and concern for others and stimulates prosocial behavior. Aggression, defined as intentionally harming another person who is motivated to avoid the harm, runs counter to the motivation to increase others' welfare and should be reduced among grateful people. Cross-sectional, longitudinal, experience sampling, and experimental designs yielded converging evidence to show that gratitude is linked to lower aggression. Higher empathy mediated the relationship between gratitude and lower aggression. These findings have widespread applications for understanding the role of emotion on aggression and can inform interventions aimed at reducing interpersonal aggression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-240
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume3
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Keywords

  • Aggression
  • Emotion
  • Interpersonal processes
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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