Does personal reflection on gratitude lead to increased volunteerism? Our group has chosen to explore this question through an experiment in which participants will have feelings of gratitude induced within a laboratory setting and then will be asked to volunteer with an on-campus charity group.
There has been a good deal of research conducted on gratitude and its effects on prosocial behavior. A 2006 article by Jo-Ann Tsang details an experiment in which researchers induced gratitude within the laboratory setting and measured subsequent prosocial behavior. The researchers randomly placed participants in either a favor condition, in which participants received words of kindness and extra resources from an unseen (and fictitious) partner during…show more content… Multiple experiments were performed during which social exclusion was manipulated. Participants in the exclusion condition showed a significant reduction in prosocial behavior. One experiment of interest to our study looks at the effects of social exclusion on volunteerism. In this experiment, participants met in groups and were asked to get to know each other during a relationship closeness task. They were then separated and asked to write down the names of the individuals they most wanted to work with. Participants were either told that every person they wanted to work with wrote down their name, or that no one wrote down their name. Participants were then asked to volunteer in three short experiments, with the number participated in as the measure of prosocial behavior. Participants who experienced exclusion volunteered for significantly fewer experiments than those who were accepted. This experiment further connects volunteerism to feeling socially valued, which can be moderated by rejection or…show more content… Inducing gratitude leads to increased helping behavior, whereas inducing rejection leads to a decrease in this behavior. Of particular note are the communal mechanisms behind this connection; further research can explore other communal factors related to gratitude and prosocial behavior, such as reciprocity norms. While past research has focused on the recipient of gratitude’s subsequent helping behavior, focusing on the giver of gratitude’s behavior may provide further insight into the social function of this act. Furthermore, exploring this aspect of gratitude has potential applied effects in exploring the relationship between personal gratitude reflection and social contribution. Previous research has also induced gratitude both in person, and in written form. A greater understanding of the effects of gratitude could be found in measuring the difference in prosocial behavior between participants thanked in person or thanked remotely. With further research, we can learn more about the function and prevalence of thanks within the greater social