Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Expression of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being among University Teachers

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Expression of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being among University Teachers

Article excerpt

The importance of Positive Psychology of gratitude and its role in enhancing the subjective well-being (happiness) of people in everyday life cannot be undermined. Positive psychology focuses on those aspects of the human condition that lead to happiness, fulfillment, and flourishing (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). It tends to promote a range of beneficial outcomes including a sense of optimism, hope, forgiveness and life satisfaction in day to day life. Gratitude is among the most desirable character strengths that are related to subjective well-being and happiness (Sheldon, Frederickson, Rathunde, Csikszentmihalyi, & Haidt, 2000).

Getting praise even on a little achievement in life enhances the enjoyment of benefits. If praise is simply a verbal expression of gratitude even then this expression completes the enjoyment of benefits in life (Watkins, Woodward, Stone, & Kolts, 2003).

The word Gratitude is derived from Latin root 'gratia' meaning grace, graciousness or gratefulness. Gratitude means a feeling of being grateful for gift or condition of being thankful (Collins Concise Dictionary & Thesaurus, 2000). Gratitude is a pleasant state and is linked with positive emotions including contentment, happiness, pride and hope (Walker & Pittes, 1998).

Gratitude has different aspects and utilitarian functions in human life (McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, 2002). Gratitude as an affective trait refers to predisposition towards certain types of emotional standings. This predisposition sets the threshold for the occurrence of particular emotional states. The people who score highly on measures of gratitude as an affective trait tend to experience low threshold or to say higher level of positive effects such as happiness, vitality and hope. At the same time, these people also experience relatively high threshold or to say low levels of negative effects such as resentment, depression and envy (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

Cognitive component of gratitude is an attribution-dependent state that resultsfrom a two-step cogn itive process: (a) recognizing pos itive outcome of gratitude and (b) recognizing that there is an external source for these positive outcomes (Clore, Ortony, & Foss, 1987).

The moral aspect of gratitude portrays gratitude as a virtue. Virtues have been defined as character traits that a human being needs to flourish or to live well (Snyder & Lopez, 2002). The emotional aspect of gratitude involves a feeling of emotional indebtedness towards another person. Fredrickson in 2002 speculates that gratitude helps people deal with stress and negative emotion (as cited in Cohen, 2006).

The term Subjective well-being (SWB) is defined as a person's cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life. These evaluations include both cognitive judgment of life satisfaction and affective evaluations of moods and emotions. Diener (2000) defines subjective well-being (happiness) as a combination of positive affect (in the absence of negative affect) and general life satisfaction. Though life satisfaction, pleasant and unpleasant affects are interrelated but they must be studied independently to gain a complete picture of overall subjective well-being (Diener, 1984; Lucas, Diener, & Suh, 1996).

Affective component of SWB refers to an evaluation of one's life in the form of affect or emotion. Subjective well-being has been found to be a function of the independent dimensions of general positive and negative affectivity. Positive Affect (PA) reflects extent of enthusiasm and alertness. High PA is a state of high energy, full concentration and pleasurable engagement, whereas low PA is characterized by sadness and lethargy. In contrast, high Negative Affect (NA) means subjective distress, un-pleasurable engagement and a variety of aversive mood states including anger, contempt, disgust, guilt, fear and nervousness. Low NA is a state of calmness and serenity (Watson, Clark, &Tellegen, 1988). …

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