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J Pers. 2009 Jun;77(3):691-730. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00562.x. Epub 2009 Mar 13.

Gender differences in gratitude: examining appraisals, narratives, the willingness to express emotions, and changes in psychological needs.

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George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA.


Previous work suggests women might possess an advantage over men in experiencing and benefiting from gratitude. We examined whether women perceive and react to gratitude differently than men. In Study 1, women, compared with men, evaluated gratitude expression to be less complex, uncertain, conflicting, and more interesting and exciting. In Study 2, college students and older adults described and evaluated a recent episode when they received a gift. Women, compared with men, reported less burden and obligation and greater gratitude. Upon gift receipt, older men reported the least positive affect when their benefactors were men. In Studies 2 and 3, women endorsed higher trait gratitude compared with men. In Study 3, over 3 months, women with greater gratitude were more likely to satisfy needs to belong and feel autonomous; gratitude had the opposite effect in men. The willingness to openly express emotions partially mediated gender differences, and effects could not be attributed to global trait affect. Results demonstrated that men were less likely to feel and express gratitude, made more critical evaluations of gratitude, and derived fewer benefits. Implications for the study and therapeutic enhancement of gratitude are discussed.

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