Could sharing gratitude on Facebook improve the well-being of young people?

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Rebecca Horner
Submitted: June 2016


The first chapter presents a systematic review of the literature around expressing gratitude and Facebook use and the impact of these behaviours on the well-being of young people. Studies were included if they evaluated the effects of Facebook use, keeping a gratitude log or sharing gratitude (online or otherwise) on measures of well-being. The review searched three electronic databases for peer-reviewed journal articles from 1995 onwards. No reports were found concerning the specific intervention of sharing of gratitude on Facebook. A total of seven Facebook interventions and 14 gratitude interventions were included. The analysis of these 21 interventions showed that overall, Facebook usage appears to have a negative impact on participants’ well-being whilst gratitude interventions appear to have a positive impact on well-being. Based on these findings it is concluded that now is a good time to begin a new program of research exploring effect of sharing gratitude on Facebook.

The empirical paper examined the effectiveness of a Facebook based gratitude intervention to promote well-being in young people aged 16-18 (N = 70). Participants completed online questionnaire measures pre and post intervention as well as at a six-week follow up. Participants posted grateful or neutral learning status update to Facebook daily for ten consecutive college days. ANOVAs revealed no significant effect of condition. Moderation analysis found that the intervention has a positive impact on well-being but only for individuals who perceived peer reactions to be positive. This tentatively suggests that simply expressing gratefulness is not enough to boost well-being, expressed gratitude needs to be positively acknowledged by others. The findings extend the evidence base in the fields of post-16 well-being, Facebook use and gratitude sharing.

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