Gratitude increases recipients’ commitment through automatic partner evaluations, yet unreciprocated gratitude decreases commitment through deliberative evaluations

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Levi R. Baker, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Feelings of gratitude motivate intimates to maintain valuable relationships. However, it is unknown whether expressions of gratitude similarly increase recipients’ relationship commitment. Two experiments tested the idea that expressions of gratitude simultaneously increase and decrease recipients’ commitment via different interpersonal evaluations, and reciprocity of gratitude determines the implications of such expressions. In Study 1, couples exchanged letters that did or did not express gratitude. Study 2 was a high-powered, preregistered experiment that led participants to believe they were or were not grateful for their partners, and their partners were or were not grateful for them. Both studies subsequently assessed automatic partner evaluations, deliberative partner and self-evaluations, and relationship commitment. Results demonstrated that intimates automatically evaluated partners who expressed gratitude more favorably and thus became more committed; however, if intimates did not reciprocate such gratitude, their deliberate self-evaluations became more favorable than their partner evaluations, and thus they became less committed.

Additional Information

Social Psychology and Personality Science, 12, 1402-1411
Language: English
Date: 2020
gratitude, romantic relationships, commitment, automatic attitudes, partner attitudes

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