Generosity and Gratitude Research Paper | akeruto_ はたらく未来のカギになる

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Generosity and Gratitude Research Paper


In social psychology, the term gratitude has been identified as moral emotion that supports pro-social behavior both for the individuals giving and the ones receiving thanks (Mikulincer & Shaver, 2007). Comparing this term to generosity, it should be stressed that both acts contribute to harmonious relationship and are primarily based on individual’s motivation (Seligman et al., 2005).


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Both types of behavior express the act of thanking and believing that good psychological state is the result of performed act of gratitude or generosity. In this regard, a self-motivated person is the one who is able to act out generosity not for his/her personal advantage. What is more, the act of gratitude and generosity is the consequences of motives.

Just like other emotional affects, it plays an important role in enhancing a pro-social behavior, providing more perspectives for research the locus of generosity (Fincham and Barling, 1978). Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the relations of acts of generosity and gratitude to psychological states of individuals.

Generosity Consequences

Researchers have reported that individuals who engage in generous acts can benefit from generosity physiologically (Brown et al., 2003; Field et al., 1998, Rosmond, Dallman, and Bjormtorp, 1998), psychologically (Seligman et al., 2005), and socially (Wilson and Musick, 1997). In this regard, the physiological benefits include: increased antibody production, heart health, decrease in pain, endorphin surge, and decrease in mortality (Brown et al., 2003).

Field et al. (1998) have stated that generosity can lower the level of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress. In contrast, increased cortisol levels are linked to stress and abdominal fat retention (Rosmond, Dallman and Bjormtorp, 1998). Field et al. (1998) investigated the effects of elderly volunteers giving massage therapy to infants.

According to the research, 10 individuals were instructed to give Swedish massages to infants. The age of the individuals ranged from 63 to 84 years old. The findings of this research suggested that giving someone else a massage lowered cortisol and catecholamines (Rosmond, Dallman and Bjormtorp, 1998).

Another endocrine response related with generosity is the release of endorphins (Seligman et al., 2005). According to the study, helpers obtain sensations that are similar to those who do physical exercises. Furthermore, volunteers reported that they felt less depressed and experienced less pain. In addition, the individuals felt stronger and more energetic (Seligman et al., 2005).


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Evaluating the results of the study, it should be stressed that the act of generosity does not only contribute to forming benevolent virtues, but also encourages the release of positive emotions. Hence, positive emotions deposit to the release of endorphin, which makes these two processes are closely interconnected.

Generous acts may improve cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart attach and increase antibody production. Boyd (2008) has reported the immune and cardiovascular systems are negatively impacted by stress. Stress reeks havoc on the cardiovascular and immune system by continually engaging the flight or fight response.

Boyd (2008) has discovered that the emotions associated with altruistic or generous acts allow the body to regain balance by increasing antibody production and lowering blood pressure through vasodilatation.

Generosity is also associated with decreasing the severity of pain. The ultimate physiological benefit is a decreased mortality rate. A study was conducted to look at the effects of giving and receiving social support among 423 couples (Brown et al., 2003). They found that individuals that gave social support to others had a lower mortality rate compared to those who only received social supports.

Reference List

Boyd, M. A. (2008). Psychiatric Nursing: Contemporary Practice . US: Lippinot Williams & Wilkins.

Brown , S. L., Neese, R. M., Vinokur , A. D., & Smith , A. D. ( 2003 ). Providing support may be more beneficial than receiving it: Results from a perspective study of morality. Psychological Science. 14, pp. 320-237.

Field, T. M., Quintino, O., Hernandez-Reif, M. and Koslovsky, G. (1998). Adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder benefit from massage therapy. Adolescence. 33, pp. 45-58.


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Finchman, F., and Barling J. (1978). Locus of Control and Generosity in Learning Disabled, Normal Achieving, and Gifted Children. Child Development. 49(2), pp. 530-533.

Mikulincer, M., and Shaver, P. R. (2007). Attachment in Adulthood: Structure, Dynamics, and Change . US: The Guilford Press.

Rosmond, R., Dallman, M. F., and Bjormtorp, P. (1998). Stress-related cortisol secretion in men: relationships with abdominal obesity and endocrine, metabolic and hemodynamic adnormalities. J Clin Endocrinol Metab . 83(6), pp.1842-1845.

Seligman, M., Steen, T., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist , 60(5), pp. 410-421

Wilson, J., & Musick, M. (1997). Who cares? Toward an integrated theory of volunteer work. American Sociological Review, 62 , pp. 694-713.


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