Main Article Content
Gratitude has generally been neglected by psychologists due to the emphasis on the medical model. A dearth of research on gratitude in Malaysia was the main impetus for these studies. Study 1 compared the gratitude scores Malaysian Malays against the US, UK, China and Japan, along an individualist-collective continuum, and results showed Malays had lower gratitude scores than the others, except for the Japanese. To increase their gratitude scores, Study 2 carried out an intervention using ‘the three good things’ exercise on 59 students over a period of 14 days. The intervention increased gratitude and life satisfaction as well as reduced distress. Furthermore, a hierarchical regression examining the effect of gratitude on well-being controlling for measures of affect and religiosity at Time 1, showed that Time-2 gratitude was only predictive of Time-2 distress. The results are discussed with respect to the collectivist culture of the Malays where negative aspects of the self are valued as a form of self-criticism to help one to constantly improve oneself. Two main implications are noted: that there are cross-cultural differences in the way gratitude is understood and expressed in the Malay culture, and that engaging in positive activity may sometimes be counterproductive to well-being.
Muslim students’ level of happiness. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 19 (7),
686-703. DOI: 10.1080/13674676.2016.1229287
Appadurai, A. (1985). Gratitude as a social mode in South India. Ethos, 13, 236–245.
Chan, D. W. (2010). Gratitude, gratitude intervention and subjective well-being among school
teachers in Hong Kong. Educational Psychology, 30, 139-153.
Chen, L. H., & Kee, Y. H. (2008). Gratitude and adolescent athletes’ well-being. Social
Indicators Research, 89, 361-373.
Chen, L. H., Chen, M. Y., Kee, Y. H., & Tsai, Y. M. (2009). Validation of the Gratitude
Questionnaire (GQ) in Taiwanese undergraduate students. Journal of Happiness
Studies, 10, 655–664. DOI 10.1007/s10902-008-9112-7
Cohen, A. B. (2006). On gratitude. Social Justice Research, 19 (2), 254-276.
Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with
Life. Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71-75.
Emmons, R. A. (2004). The psychology of gratitude: An introduction. In R. A. Emmons &
M. E. McCullough (Eds.), Psychology of gratitude (pp. 3–16). New York: Oxford
Emmons, R. A. (2012). Queen of the virtues: Gratitude as a human strength. Reflective
Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry, 32, 49-62.
Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C. A. (2000). Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the
evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19, 56–69.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An
experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal
of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.
Fredrickson, B. L., Tugade, M. M., Waugh, C. E., & Larkin, G. R. (2003). What good are
positive emotions in crises? A prospective study of resilience and emotions
following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 365–376.
Froh, J. J., Kashdan, T. B., Ozimkowski, K. M., & Miller, N. (2009). Who benefits the
most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining
positive affect as a moderator. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4, 408–422.
Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2013). Strength-based positive
interventions: further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being and
alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(4), 1241–1259.
Goldberg, D. P. (1978). Manual of the General Health Questionnaire. NFER Publishing:
Hall, E. T. (1998). The power of hidden differences. In M. Bennett (Ed.), Basic concepts of
intercultural communication: Selected readings (pp. 53-67). Yarmouth, Maine:
Hitokoto, H., Niiya, Y., & Tanaka-Matsumi, J. (2008). Own benefit and other's cost:
Cross-cultural comparison of “Indebtedness” among American and Japanese students.
The Japanese Journal of Research on Emotion, 16, 3-24.
Kashdan, T. B., & Breen, W. E. (2007). Materialism and diminished well-being: Experiential avoidance as a mediating mechanism. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26 (5), 521-539.
Kashdan, T. B., Mishra, A., Breen, W. E., & Froh, J. J. (2009). Gender differences in gratitude: Examining appraisals, narratives, the willingness to express emotions, and changes in psychological needs. Journal of Personality, 77(3), 691-730. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00562.x
Killen, A., & Macaskill, A. (2015). Using a gratitude intervention to enhance well-being in
older adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 947–964. DOI 10.1007/s10902-014-9542-3
Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., Ko, D., & Taylor, S. E. (2006). Pursuit of comfort and pursuit of
harmony: Culture, relationships, and social support seeking. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 32(12), 1595–1607. DOI:10.1177/0146167206291991
Kong, F., Ding, K., & Zhao, J. (2015). The relationships among gratitude, self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction among undergraduate students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 477–489.
Kuranaga, H., & Higuchi, M. (2011). The structure of gratitude: The multiplicity of situations
arousing gratitude and emotional experiences. Japanese Journal of Research on Emotion, 18, 110-119.
Kwon, J. W. (2012). Does China have more than one culture? Exploring regional differences
of work values in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 29, 79–102. DOI 10.1007/s10490-010-9191-y
Lambert, N. M., Graham, S. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2009). A prototype analysis of gratitude:
Varieties of gratitude experiences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35,
Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., Braithwaite, S. R., Graham, S. M., & Beach, S. R. H.
(2009). Can prayer increase gratitude? Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 1, 139–149.
Linley, P. A., Joseph, S., Harrington, S., & Wood, A. M. (2006). Positive psychology: Past,
present, and (possible) future. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1, 3–16. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17439760500372796
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The
architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9, 111-131. DOI:10.1037/1089-26126.96.36.199
Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion,
and motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224-253.
McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. A. (2002). The grateful disposition: A
conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82, 112–127. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.52
Mohd Mahudin, N. D., Noor, N. M., Dzulkifli, M. A., & Janon, N. S. (2016). Religiosity
among Muslims: A scale development and validation study. Makara Hubs-Asia, 20(2), 109–121.
Naito, T., & Washizo, N. (2015). Note on cultural universals and variations of gratitude
from an East Asian point of view. International Journal of Behavioral Science, 10 (2), 1-8.
Naito, T., & Sakata,Y. (2010). Gratitude, indebtedness, and regret on receiving a friend’s
favour in Japan. Psychologia, 53, 179-194.
Naito, T., Matsuda, T., Intasuwan, P., Chuawanlee, W., Thanachanan, S., Ounthitiwat, J., &
Fukushima, M. (2010). Gratitude for, and regret toward, nature: Relationships to
proenvironmental intent of university students from Japan. Social Behavior &
Personality, 38, 993-1008
Ramirez, E., Ortega, A. R., Chamorro, A., & Colmenero, J. M. (2014). A program of
positive intervention in the elderly: Memories, gratitude and forgiveness. Aging & Mental Health, 18(4), 463–470.
Rash, J. A., Matsuba, M. K., & Prkachin, K. M. (2011). Gratitude and well-being: Who
benefits the most from a gratitude Intervention? Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3, 350–369.
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: The benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry, 7(11), 18-21.
Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology
progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60,
Solomon, R. C. (2004). Foreword. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.),
Psychology of gratitude (pp. v–xi). New York: Oxford University Press.
Steele, L. G., & Lynch, S. M. (2013). The pursuit of happiness in China: Individualism, collectivism, and subjective well-being during China’s economic and social transformation. Social Indicators Research, 114 (2), 441-451.
Taylor, S. E., Sherman, D. K., Kim, H. S., Jarcho, J., Takagi, K., & Dunagan, M. S. (2004).
Culture and social support: Who seeks it and why? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(3), 354–362. DOI:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2064
Toepfer, S. M., Cichy, K., & Peters, P. (2012). Letters of gratitude: Further evidence for
author benefits. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13, 187–201.
Tsang, J. A., Carpenter, T. P., Roberts, J. A., Frisch, M. B., & Carlisle, R. D. (2014). Why are
materialists less happy? The role of gratitude and need satisfaction in the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 64, 62-66.
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of Brief Measures
of Positive and Negative Affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 54, 1063-1070.
Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2008). Gratitude uniquely predicts satisfaction
with life: Incremental validity above the domains and facets of the five factor
model. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 49–54.
Yee, L. S., & Walet, M. H. (2013). Materialism and gratitude in Asia. In S. McCarthy, J.
Jaafar, A. Kamal & A. Zubair (Eds.), Psychology at work in Asia: Proceeds of the 3rd
and 4th Asian Psychological Association Conferences and the 4th International
Conference on Organizational Psychology (pp. 429-443). UK: Cambridge Scholars
Zou, X., & Cai, H. (2016). Charting China’s rising individualism in names, songs and
attitudes. Retrieved April 28, 2017 from https://hbr.org/2016/03/charting-chinas-rising-individualism-in-names-songs-and-attitudes