Grateful recounting enhances subjective well-being: The importance of grateful processing

Philip C. Watkins, Jens Uhder, Stan Pichinevskiy
  • The Journal of Positive Psychology, June 2014, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2014.927909

Grateful Processing is important to the effectiveness of Grateful Recounting

What is it about?

Although studies have repeatedly found that grateful recounting (or counting one's blessings) enhances subjective well-being, we do not know whether this is simply an effect due to recalling positive memories, or if grateful processes are required. In this study we showed that it was not simply recalling "good things" that made grateful recounting effective, grateful processing of the good memories was important. Moreover, the well-being of those in the grateful recounting treatment continued to climb after the treatment phase.

Why is it important?

This study provided more evidence that grateful recounting improves happiness compared to an effective placebo treatment, and that grateful processing of counting one's blessings is crucial for enhancing one's well-being.


Philip Watkins

Because very few RCTs of grateful recounting have included active placebo conditions that actually showed a placebo effect, the fact that we showed that grateful recounting significantly improved well-being more than the placebo condition is important, and offers more evidence that grateful recounting enhances happiness. Although I was surprised that the happiness of those in the grateful recounting condition keep increasing after the treatment phase, this was consistent with the results of Seligman et al.'s findings regarding their "3-Blessings" treatment (2005), and supports the idea that daily grateful recounting may train individuals to notice and appreciate the good things in their life.

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The following have contributed to this page: Philip Watkins