Nice thinking! an educational intervention that teaches children to think gratefully

Jeffrey J. Froh, Giacomo Bono, Jinyan Fan, Robert A. Emmons, Katherine Henderson, Cheray Harris, Heather Leggio, Alex M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


Gratitude is essential to social life and well-being. Although research with youth populations has gained momentum recently, only two gratitude interventions have been conducted in youth, targeting mostly adolescents. In the current research, we tested a new intervention for promoting gratitude among the youngest children targeted to date. Elementary school classrooms (of 8- to 11-year-olds) were randomly assigned either to an intervention that educated children about the appraisal of benefit exchanges or to a control condition. We found that children's awareness of the social-cognitive appraisals of beneficial social exchanges (i.e., grateful thinking) can be strengthened and that this, in turn, makes children more grateful and benefits their well-being in terms of increased general positive affect. A daily intervention produced evidence that this new approach induced gratitude immediately (2 days later) and led children to express gratitude more behaviorally (i.e., they wrote 80% more thank-you cards to their Parent-Teacher Association). A weekly intervention induced gratitude up to 5 months later and additionally showed an effect on well-being (i.e., positive affect). Evidence thus supported the effectiveness of this intervention. Results are discussed in terms of implications for positive youth development and academic functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-152
Number of pages21
JournalSchool Psychology Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


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