“Researchers have been making the case for 15 years that expressing gratitude can improve well-being, but we have yet to understand why in practice people don’t walk around in everyday life expressing thanks,” says Amit Kumar, a professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who has studied everything from consumer behavior to judgment and decision-making. These days, he is primarily focused on how people find joy in their daily lives.
To figure out what is standing in the way of people expressing gratitude, Kumar and his research partners had participants write a “gratitude letter” to someone in their life who had made a positive impact in some way. The writers then were asked to predict how recipients would feel when they received the letter. Researchers followed up with recipients to record their actual reactions.
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