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Functions of Positive Emotions: Gratitude as a Motivator of Self-Improvement and Positive Change

  • Author(s): Armenta, Christina N
  • Fritz, Megan M
  • Lyubomirsky, Sonja
  • et al.
Abstract

Positive emotions are highly valued and frequently sought. Beyond just being pleasant, however, positive emotions may also lead to long-term benefits in important domains, including work, physical health, and interpersonal relationships. Research thus far has focused on the broader functions of positive emotions. According to the broaden-and-build theory, positive emotions expand people’s thought–action repertoires and allow them to build psychological, intellectual, and social resources. New evidence suggests that positive emotions—particularly gratitude—may also play a role in motivating individuals to engage in positive behaviors leading to self-improvement. We propose and offer supportive evidence that expressing gratitude leads people to muster effort to improve themselves via increases in connectedness, elevation, humility, and specific negative states including indebtedness.

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