Is an understanding of moral obligation associated with the moral virtue gratitude?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sara Ann Etz Mendonca (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jonathan Tudge

Abstract: The purpose of the current study was to examine gratitude as a virtue, defined by a benefactor freely giving some kind of benefit to a beneficiary who recognizes the boon, and then freely and intentionally chooses to reciprocate based on the wishes of the benefactor, and its relation to moral obligation, specifically heteronomous versus autonomous obligation in seven to fourteen year olds. Vignette interviews, an open-ended questionnaire determining expressions of gratitude, and the GAQ showed that there was no significant link between expressions of gratitude and children’s and adolescents’ justifications for helping a benefactor based on the type of moral obligation expressed. Nor were differences found based on age or gender. However, an unexpected type of obligation, consequences to the benefactor, was related to age such that younger children were more likely to be concerned about the consequences to their benefactors if they did not help them than were older children. Additionally, those children and adolescents who expressed concrete or connective gratitude scored higher on the GAC, as did girls versus boys.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Development, Gratitude, Moral, Obligation, Virtue
Child development
Moral development

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