Feeling gratitude is associated with better well-being across the life span: A daily diary study during the COVID-19 outbreak

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Abstract

Objectives: Numerous studies have shown that gratitude can improve mental health of people facing stressful events. However, most studies in this area have been based on laboratory experiments and retrospective surveys, rather than actual situations in which people are experiencing stress. Moreover, few studies have examined whether age moderates the benefits of gratitude. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has caused enormous psychological distress worldwide. Evidence-based strategies are needed to enhance well-being during this stressful time. This study attempted to fill these gaps by examining the benefits of feeling gratitude every day during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Method: A sample of 231 participants from mainland China aged 18–85 years participated in a 14-day daily diary study. After a pretest to collect demographic data, information on gratitude, daily positive and negative affect, perceived stress related to COVID-19, and subjective health were measured using daily questionnaires on 14 consecutive days. One month after the daily diary period, information on affective experiences, life satisfaction, and subjective health was collected as a follow-up survey.
Results: On days when individuals feel more gratitude than usual, they report more positive affect, a lower level of perceived stress related to COVID-19, and better subjective health on the concurrent day (Day N). Individuals also report a lower level of stress related to COVID-19 on the following day (Day N + 1), when they feel more gratitude than usual on Day N. Higher levels of gratitude across the 14-day study period was associated with a higher level of positive affect and a lower level of negative affect, but was not associated with life satisfaction or subjective health at the 1-month follow-up assessment.
Discussion: These findings demonstrate the benefits of gratitude in a naturalistic situation that induced stress and anxiety. Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Gerontological Society of America. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbergbaa220
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Early online date07 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 07 Dec 2020

Citation

Jiang, D. (2020). Feeling gratitude is associated with better well-being across the life span: A daily diary study during the COVID-19 outbreak. Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbaa220

Keywords

  • Age
  • COVID-19
  • Gratitude
  • Stress
  • Well-being

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