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The purpose of the current study is to examine and interpret findings on gratitude in the context of different stages of human development. A hypothetical framework of life span development was created for reviewing and interpreting the results of the studies conducted between 1900 to 2018. The topics that we discussed in the developmental phases were about gratitude routines, gratitude in exploring identity, and gratitude for life integrity, which were supposed to be developmental tasks in childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age respectively. These developmental tasks need to be achieved or resolved, for the promoting adaptation in their lives, and for successive development in the life cycles. We reviewed the studies that have compared gratitude between different age groups under these themes. In addition, some studies that explored age-specific phenomena of gratitude were reviewed for supplementary purposes. This review shows that there exist both qualitative and quantitative changes of gratitude in a life span, and in general, confirms the utility and the need to interpret findings on gratitude in the context of each developmental phase, which include cognitive resources, modes of social interactions, developmental tasks and so on. Furthermore, the interpretation in developmental contexts could lead to relevant educational and clinical treatments for each developmental phase.
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