Jacqui E. Smith

Gratitude in an Aging Society

Research Project Description
Lindsay H. Ryan, Jacqui E. Smith, Amanda Sonnega, Nicola Jane Newton

This project is focused on gratitude as a virtue in older adults and its implications for an aging society. The primary aim is to identify key components of gratitude that are relevant to the health and happiness of older adults and to develop a survey instrument that can be easily incorporated into studies on successful aging. Extant research identifying the components and benefits of gratitude is largely based on non-representative, convenience samples (e.g., undergraduates). New measures to assess facets of gratitude in older adults are needed to examine its role in successful aging – in particular it's role regarding challenges such as physical declines and the deaths of loved ones.

This project employs a mixed-method approach to develop and pilot an instrument to measure gratitude that can be included in future surveys of population aging. Specifically, we develop a coding frame to analyze existing data from two sources: 1) a nationally representative sample of the 51+ population; and 2) a narrative study of adults' personality and wellbeing. Using data from focus groups and applying information from the secondary data analysis, we then develop and pilot an instrument to measure the key components of gratitude most relevant to older adults.

Funding: John Templeton Foundation (Grant #48461)

Funding Period: 1/1/2014 to 7/31/2016

International Focus: United States of America