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An attitude for gratitude: how gratitude is understood, experienced and valued by the British public: research report

Arthur, James and Kristjánsson, Kristján and Gulliford, Liz and Morgan, Blaire (2015) An attitude for gratitude: how gratitude is understood, experienced and valued by the British public: research report. Project Report. Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, Birmingham.


Identification Number/DOI: ISBN: 978-0-7044-2850-8


The subject of gratitude has gained traction in recent years in academic and popular (eg, media) circles. However, limited attention has been devoted to understanding what laypeople understand by the concept of gratitude; the meaning of which tends to have been assumed in the literature. Furthermore, while intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of gratitude have been extolled in this growing body of research, there has been little assessment of the value laypeople place on gratitude themselves, or whether and how they think it might be fostered.

Since September 2012, our Attitude for Gratitude research project has been engaged in examining precisely how gratitude is conceptualised by the British public, what British people are grateful for, the value they place on gratitude, what kinds of people tend to be grateful, and whether and how they think gratitude might be promoted in British society. The project has incorporated a variety of methods to examine these questions, conceptually and empirically, canvassing the opinions of over 10,000 people in the UK. A key issue for our research has been to represent the views of British people across a range of ages, ethnicities and backgrounds that are representative of Britain today. We are strongly committed to the view that researchers should engage with laypeople to avoid superimposing a meaning and value on gratitude that does not reflect the views of the people the research purports to study. To this end, and to throw light on what British laypeople understand by the concept of gratitude, we carried out a series of empirical studies that complement the definitions of philosophers and psychologists with more everyday definitions of laypeople5. To examine the perceived value of gratitude we surveyed British people directly, making no prior assumptions about where gratitude might be evaluated in relation to other values and virtues. Finally, we sought to elicit suggestions from the British public themselves about how gratitude might be fostered in British society.

Much recent research on gratitude has originated in the USA and therefore a further aim of the project was to assess the degree to which the understanding and evaluation of gratitude may differ between the USA and the UK. We sought to target the British public with these questions:

Type of Work:Monograph (Project Report)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Number of Pages:19
Department:School of Education, Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues
Keywords:Gratitude, Character, Virtues
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)
Related URLs:
Funders:John Templeton Foundation
ID Code:1971

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