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Cogn Emot. 2017 Dec;31(8):1627-1637. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2016.1256274. Epub 2016 Nov 15.

No thanks! Autonomous interpersonal style is associated with less experience and valuing of gratitude.

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a Department of Psychology , American University , Washington , DC , USA.


Gratitude has been promoted as a beneficial emotional experience. However, gratitude is not universally experienced as positive. The current work examines whether an autonomous interpersonal style is associated with differential experience of gratitude. Study 1 found an inverse relationship between trait autonomy and both trait gratitude and positivity of response to receiving a hypothetical benefit from a friend. Study 2 replicated the finding that those higher in autonomy report less trait gratitude, and also demonstrated an inverse relationship between autonomy and valuing gratitude. Study 3 found that those higher in autonomy had more self-image goals and reduced compassionate goals in relationships, and that valuing gratitude mediated the relationship between autonomy and relationship goals. These results show a consistent inverse relationship between autonomy and the experience and valuing of gratitude, suggesting that degree of autonomy is one determinant of whether gratitude is experienced as positive.


Positive emotions; autonomy; gratitude; interpersonal functioning; relationship goals

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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