Expressions of Gratitude in Children and Adolescents: Insights From China and the United States

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Gratitude is a socially desirable virtue that is related to well-being at both personal and societal levels. The present study took a developmental perspective to examine changes with age in types of wishes and gratitude in two societies. The samples consisted of 357 children, aged 7 to 14 years, from a medium-sized city in the southeast United States, and 334 children from a metropolitan area in southern China. Results showed that the expression of connective gratitude, which is considered the most sophisticated form of gratitude and theorized to promote personal well-being and social relationships, increased with age, regardless of society. Participants in China, a society considered to emphasize relatedness more than does the United States, were more likely to express connective gratitude than were their counterparts in the United States. Furthermore, an inverse relationship between hedonistic wishes and connective gratitude was revealed in the U.S. sample.

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Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology