The Benefits of Children’s Gratitude: Identifying Mediators and Designing a New Measure

Assignment type: Thesis
Author: Sophie Smith
Submitted: October 2021


School-based gratitude interventions show evidence of enhancing student well-being but there is limited research suggesting how gratitude increases well-being. There is also the need for a suitable tool to measure children’s gratitude and evaluate the impact of gratitude interventions. The researcher sought to address these literature gaps. A systematic literature review was used to address the question ‘which variables mediate the association between young people’s gratitude and well-being?’. Stronger evidence was found for cognitive and social resources as mediators, compared to mediators related to affect. A lack of experimental and longitudinal studies in the current evidence base was identified, highlighting avenues for future research.

In an empirical study, the researcher designed and screened a new questionnaire of children’s gratitude, the Questionnaire of Appreciation in Youth (QUAY). Items were developed using the literature to identify a comprehensive definition of gratitude and its key features, and through discussion with the research supervisors who have extensive experience of studying gratitude. The initial items were screened in a focus group with three children aged eight to nine. Exploratory factor analysis was then conducted with responses from 107 children aged eight to 10. This led to the development of an 11-item scale with good reliability and convergent validity with an existing measure of gratitude, the GQ-6. A three-factor structure was retained, with subscales addressing gratitude, appreciation, and sense of privilege. Limitations include the lack of a more diverse sample, the absence of reverse-scored items, positive skew in responses, and the need to establish discriminant validity. Implications include new insights into the structure of children’s gratitude, providing a working tool which could be further developed in order to measure children’s gratitude more effectively.

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