Does personal reflection on gratitude lead to increased volunteerism? Our group has chosen to explore this question through an experiment in which participants will have feelings of gratitude induced within a laboratory setting and then will be asked to volunteer with an on-campus charity group.There has been a good deal of research conducted on gratitude and its effects on prosocial behavior. A 2006 article by Jo-Ann Tsang details an experiment in which researchers induced gratitude within the laboratory setting and measured subsequent prosocial behavior. The researchers randomly placed participants in either a favor condition, in which participants received words of kindness and extra resources from an unseen (and fictitious) partner during a resource distribution task, or in a chance condition in which they received extra resources by chance. This was done in order to isolate prosocial behavior to gratitude, rather than just positive emotion.Order now
Prosocial behavior was measured by participants’ choices of resource distribution during the task and response to a questionnaire on their motives behind their distribution decisions. The researchers found that participants in the favor condition gave significantly more to their partner and rated “to express appreciation” as a greater motivation for their choice than participants in the chance condition. The experimenters found support for the connection between gratitude and prosocial behavior. The laboratory induction of gratitude in this experiment provides a useful methodological basis for future research into gratitude because of its standardized form.A 2010 article by Grant and Gino examines potential psychological mechanisms behind the relationship between gratitude and prosocial . .
further research can explore other communal factors related to gratitude and prosocial behavior, such as reciprocity norms. While past research has focused on the recipient of gratitude’s subsequent helping behavior, focusing on the giver of gratitude’s behavior may provide further insight into the social function of this act. Furthermore, exploring this aspect of gratitude has potential applied effects in exploring the relationship between personal gratitude reflection and social contribution. Previous research has also induced gratitude both in person, and in written form. A greater understanding of the effects of gratitude could be found in measuring the difference in prosocial behavior between participants thanked in person or thanked remotely. With further research, we can learn more about the function and prevalence of thanks within the greater social context.