Elise DeFusco Journal Article Critique Introduction: The article I chose to read and discuss came from the

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2010, Vol. 98, No. 6, 946-955. Titled “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior,” the article discussed a study conducted by Adam M. Grant, from the University of Pennsylvania, and Francesca Gino, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Major Research Questions/Hypothesis: Grant and Gino explain that while many studies have established that gratitude increases prosocial behavior, few have been conduct as to explain what psychological mechanisms create this outcome. In an effort to further understand this phenomena, they proposed “gratitude expressions can enhance prosocial behavior through both agentic and communal mechanisms, such that when helpers are thanked for their efforts, they experience stronger feelings of self-efficacy and social worth, which motivate them to engage in prosocial behavior.” (946) Study Methodology: The study was conducted through four experiments. In the first, sixty-nine undergrads were offered $10 to partake in an online study about writing skills and feedback. A fake student sent a cover letter to the participant, which they evaluated and then sent back. A response message was sent (by the experimenter) to the participant. This message was the manipulated independent variable, and it came in two forms. Both asked the student to help with a second cover letter (for free), but only half also included an expression of thanks. A final questionnaire was sent to evaluate feelings of social worth and self-efficacy, and the experimenter tracked whether participants provided help

but with the interpersonal aspect of the third experiment. The confederate then left. or did not. The experiment was modeled the same as the first. A confederate acting as the fake student then arrived to deliver some forms. the amounts of fundraising calls were monitored the week before and after the gratitude. The third experiment was conducted using alumni soliciting for university donations. The . The amount of time voluntarily spent editing the second cover letter was the measure of prosocial behavior.on the second cover letter to obtain an objective measure of prosocial behavior. They all had a control group and an experimental group. In all experiments. They were told they could leave whenever they completed the second cover letter. an independent variable (gratitude given). The only difference in treatment of the two groups was that one group received thanks from the director of annual giving. Fundraisers were randomly divided into two groups with different shifts to avoid discussions. if gratitude from Individual A would make participants more likely to help Individual B. the request to evaluate a second cover letter came from a different student. To measure prosocial behavior. This study used experimental methodology to test the hypothesis. and a dependant variable (amount of prosocial behavior). only this time. The confederate either thanked the participant in the course of light conversation. The fourth and final experiment was modeled after the first two. This manipulation was to monitor the effect of a face-to-face interaction. participants completed a questionnaire assessing their feelings of self-efficacy and social worth. Participants arrived individually at a laboratory where they evaluated a cover letter for a fake student. and the experimenter gave the participant another cover letter. In the second experiment they examined whether gratitude would create a “spillover” effect – that is.

It does not however support the experimenter’s idea that agentic mechanisms significantly affect prosocial behavior. This supports a portion of the hypothesis presented – that a communal perspective can explain why gratitude increases prosocial behavior. only social worth explained the effects of gratitude on prosocial behavior. These effects worked both towards the initial beneficiary. Potential Alternative Approaches: The scientists conducting this study offer up a variety of suggestions that could be used for further research on this subject. They discovered that “consistently strong effects of relatively small gratitude manipulations are noteworthy (Prentice & Miller. The weaknesses were that the experimenters found inconsistencies across the four studies. The feel that researchers could investigate . This exemplifies a weakness of experimental research . a mere expression of thanks more than doubled the likelihood that helpers would provide assistance again (from 25% to 55% and from 32% to 66%). a single gratitude expression yielded an increase of 15% in the average amount of time spent helping. 1992). gratitude produced more than 50% increases in the number of calls that the average fundraiser made in a single week.major strengths of this method are that the experimenters were able to determine actual cause and effect.many factors go into an equation/hypothesis and often not all of them can be investigated. In [their] third experiment. Researcher’s Conclusions: The researchers concluded that perceptions of social worth strongly mediated the prosocial behavior.” (953) The questionnaire results revealed that while thanks increased both self-efficacy and social worth. The sense of being socially valued was more important to the participants then the feelings of competence they received from being thanked. In [their] first two experiments. a different beneficiary. In [their] fourth experiment. and a university.

whether self-esteem is a micromediator of gratitude expressions on social worth. or whether and when gratitude expressions violate norms by making helpers feel uncomfortable or burdened. based on the lack of a questionnaire to determine how the helper felt in terms of gratitude. etc) could arise. for which the helper would either receive or not receive thanks. Then perhaps another opportunity could arise a few moments later. how facial and nonverbal cues influence reactions to gratitude. . Another way this study could be conducted may be through field experiments. supermarket. and correlational data could be assessed. Unfortunately by doing this you lose the hard data of cause and effect. An opportunity to help someone in a public place (a mall.

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