New publication stemming from our grant-funded project on the scientific study of gratitude to god!
Van Cappellen, P., Clapp, A., & Algoe, S. (in press). God of the good gaps: Prevalence, eliciting situations, and demonstrations of gratitude to god as compared to interpersonal gratitude. Journal of Positive Psychology.
Gratitude for another person’s actions has received exponential attention from the scientific community for its many benefits. Yet, this research is virtually silent on one key target of gratitude – god – despite billions of people believing in a personal, intervening, and benevolent god. In a large multi–method study, we sampled U.S. Hindus, Muslims, Jews, and Christians (N=1270). First, we document the prevalence of spontaneous mentions of god as the target of a gratitude expression following a personal success. Only 16% of our religious participants did mention god but priming god increased this number to 29%. Second, we documented a wider array of eliciting situations of gratitude to god (GTG) compared to gratitude to another person (GTO) and particularly for broad good things in life that don’t have a clear agent. Finally, we documented ways that GTG vs. GTO is demonstrated, suggesting that GTG sustains religious practice and builds morality.