Gratitude, Gratitude Intervention and Well-being in Malaysia

Main Article Content

Noraini Mohd Noor
Nur Diana Abdul Rahman
Muhammad Idlan Afiq Mohamad Zahari

Abstract

Gratitude has generally been neglected by psychologists due to the emphasis on the medical model. A dearth of research on gratitude in Malaysia was the main impetus for these studies. Study 1 compared the gratitude scores Malaysian Malays against the US, UK, China and Japan, along an individualist-collective continuum, and results showed Malays had lower gratitude scores than the others, except for the Japanese. To increase their gratitude scores, Study 2 carried out an intervention using ‘the three good things’ exercise on 59 students over a period of 14 days. The intervention increased gratitude and life satisfaction as well as reduced distress. Furthermore, a hierarchical regression examining the effect of gratitude on well-being controlling for measures of affect and religiosity at Time 1, showed that Time-2 gratitude was only predictive of Time-2 distress. The results are discussed with respect to the collectivist culture of the Malays where negative aspects of the self are valued as a form of self-criticism to help one to constantly improve oneself. Two main implications are noted: that there are cross-cultural differences in the way gratitude is understood and expressed in the Malay culture, and that engaging in positive activity may sometimes be counterproductive to well-being.

Article Details

How to Cite
Noor, N. M., Abdul Rahman, N. D., & Mohamad Zahari, M. I. A. (2018). Gratitude, Gratitude Intervention and Well-being in Malaysia. The Journal of Behavioral Science, 13(2), 1-18. Retrieved from https://so06.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/IJBS/article/view/123509
Section
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Nur Diana Abdul Rahman, Department of Psychology, International Islamic University Malaysia

At the time the article was written, Nur Diana was a final-year psychology student at the department of psychology, IIUM, Malaysia.

Muhammad Idlan Afiq Mohamad Zahari, Department of Psychology, International Islamic University Malaysia

At the time the article was written, Idlan was a final-year psychology student at the department of psychology, IIUM, Malaysia.

References

Al-Seheel, A. Y. & Noor, N. M. (2016). Effects of an Islamic-based gratitude strategy on Muslim students’ level of happiness. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 19(7), 686-703. doi:10.1080/13674676.2016.1229287
Appadurai, A. (1985). Gratitude as a social mode in South India. Ethos, 13(3), 236–245.
Chan, D. W. (2010). Gratitude, gratitude intervention and subjective well-being among school teachers in Hong Kong. Educational Psychology, 30(2), 139-153. doi:10.1080/01443410903493934
Chen, L. H., & Kee, Y. H. (2008). Gratitude and adolescent athletes’ well-being. Social Indicators Research, 89(2), 361-373. doi:10.1007/s11205-008-9237-4
Chen, L. H., Chen, M. Y., Kee, Y. H., & Tsai, Y. M. (2009). Validation of the Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ) in Taiwanese undergraduate students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10, 655–664. doi:10.1007/s10902-008-9112-7
Cohen, A. B. (2006). On gratitude. Social Justice Research, 19(2), 254-276. doi:10.1007/s11211-006-0005-9.
Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49(1), 71-75.
Department of Statistics, Malaysia. (2017). Current Population Estimates, Malaysia, 2016 – 2017. Retrieved from https://www.dosm.gov.my/v1/index.php?r=column/ pdfPrev&id= a1d1UTFZazd5ajJiRWFHNDduOXFFQT09
Emmons, R. A. (2004). The psychology of gratitude: An introduction. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), Psychology of gratitude (pp. 3–16). New York: Oxford University Press.
Emmons, R. A. (2012). Queen of the virtues: Gratitude as a human strength. Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry, 32, 49-62.
Emmons, R. A., & Crumpler, C. A. (2000). Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 19(1), 56–69. doi:10.1521/jscp.2000.19.1.56
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377–389. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.377
Floyd, S., Rossi, G., Baranova, J., Blythe, J., Dingemanse, M., Kendrick, K. H., Zinken, J., & Enfield, N. J. (2018). Universals and cultural diversity in the expression of gratitude. Royal Society Open Science, 5(5), 180391. doi:10.1098/rsos.180391
Fredrickson, B. L., Tugade, M. M., Waugh, C. E., & Larkin, G. R. (2003). What good are positive emotions in crises? A prospective study of resilience and emotions following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 365–376. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.84.2.365
Fritz, M. M., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2018). Wither happiness? When, how, and why might positive activities undermine well-being. In J. P. Forgas & R. F. Baumeister (Eds.), The social psychology of living well (pp. 101-115). New York: Routledge.
Froh, J. J., Kashdan, T. B., Ozimkowski, K. M., & Miller, N. (2009). Who benefits the most from a gratitude intervention in children and adolescents? Examining positive affect as a moderator. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(5), 408–422. doi: 10.1080/17439760902992464
Gander, F., Proyer, R. T., Ruch, W., & Wyss, T. (2013). Strength-based positive interventions: Further evidence for their potential in enhancing well-being and alleviating depression. Journal of Happiness Studies, 14(4), 1241–1259. doi:10.1177/0261429416640334
Goldberg, D. P. (1978). Manual of the General Health Questionnaire. NFER Publishing: Windsor.
Hall, E. T. (1998). The power of hidden differences. In M. Bennett (Ed.), Basic concepts of intercultural communication: Selected readings (pp. 53-67). Yarmouth, Maine: Intercultural Press.
Hitokoto, H., Niiya, Y., & Tanaka-Matsumi, J. (2008). Own benefit and other's cost: Cross-cultural comparison of “Indebtedness” among American and Japanese students. The Japanese Journal of Research on Emotion, 16(1), 3-24.
Kanagawa, C., Cross, S. E., & Markus, H. R. (2001). "Who am I?" The cultural psychology of the conceptual self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(1), 90-103. doi:10.1177/0146167201271008
Kashdan, T. B., & Breen, W. E. (2007). Materialism and diminished well-being: Experiential avoidance as a mediating mechanism. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26 (5), 521-539. doi:10.1521/jscp.2007.26.5.521
Kashdan, T. B., Mishra, A., Breen, W. E., & Froh, J. J. (2009). Gender differences in gratitude: Examining appraisals, narratives, the willingness to express emotions, and changes in psychological needs. Journal of Personality, 77(3), 691-730. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2009.00562.x
Killen, A., & Macaskill, A. (2015). Using a gratitude intervention to enhance well-being in older adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16(4), 947–964. doi:10.1007/s10902-014-9542-3
Kim, H. S., Sherman, D. K., Ko, D., & Taylor, S. E. (2006). Pursuit of comfort and pursuit of harmony: Culture, relationships, and social support seeking. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32(12), 1595–1607. doi:10.1177/0146167206291991
Kong, F., Ding, K., & Zhao, J. (2015). The relationships among gratitude, self-esteem, social support and life satisfaction among undergraduate students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16(2), 477–489. doi:10.1007/s10902-014-9519-2
Kwon, J. W. (2012). Does China have more than one culture? Exploring regional differences of work values in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 29(1), 79–102. doi:10.1007/s10490-010-9191-y
Lambert, N. M., Graham, S. M., & Fincham, F. D. (2009). A prototype analysis of gratitude: Varieties of gratitude experiences. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(9), 1193-1207. doi: 10.1177/ 0146167209338071
Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., Braithwaite, S. R., Graham, S. M., & Beach, S. R. H. (2009). Can prayer increase gratitude? Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 1(3), 139–149.
Layous, K., Lee, H., Choi, I., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). Culture matters when designing a successful happiness-increasing activity: A comparison of the United States and South Korea. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 44(8), 1294-1303.
Linley, P. A., Joseph, S., Harrington, S., & Wood, A. M. (2006). Positive psychology: Past, present, and (possible) future. Journal of Positive Psychology, 1(1), 3–16. doi:10.1080/17439760500372796
Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of General Psychology, 9(2), 111-131. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.9.2.111
Lyubomirsky, S., & Layous, K. (2013). How do simple positive activities increase well-being? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22(1), 57-62. doi:10.1177/0963721412469809
Markus, H., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review, 98(2), 224-253. doi:10.1037/0033-295X.98.2.224
McCullough, M. E., Emmons, R. A., & Tsang, J. A. (2002). The grateful disposition: A conceptual and empirical topography. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(1), 112–127. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.82.1.112
Ministry of Health Malaysia. (2006). Guidelines for Ethical Review of Clinical Research or Research involving human subjects 2006. Available from http://www.nccr.gov.my
Mohd Mahudin, N. D., Noor, N. M., Dzulkifli, M. A., & Janon, N. S. (2016). Religiosity among Muslims: A scale development and validation study. Makara Hubs-Asia, 20(2), 109–121.
Naito, T., & Sakata,Y. (2010). Gratitude, indebtedness, and regret on receiving a friend’s favour in Japan. Psychologia, 53(3), 179-194.
Naito, T., & Washizo, N. (2015). Note on cultural universals and variations of gratitude from an East Asian point of view. International Journal of Behavioral Science, 10(2), 1-8.
Naito, T., Matsuda, T., Intasuwan, P., Chuawanlee, W., Thanachanan, S., Ounthitiwat, J., & Fukushima, M. (2010). Gratitude for, and regret toward, nature: Relationships to proenvironmental intent of university students from Japan. Social Behavior & Personality, 38(7), 993-1008
Ramirez, E., Ortega, A. R., Chamorro, A., & Colmenero, J. M. (2014). A program of positive intervention in the elderly: Memories, gratitude and forgiveness. Aging & Mental Health, 18(4), 463–470. doi:10.1080/13607863.2013.856858.
Rash, J. A., Matsuba, M. K., & Prkachin, K. M. (2011). Gratitude and well-being: Who benefits the most from a gratitude Intervention? Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, 3(3), 350–369. doi:10.1111/j.1758-0854.2011.01058.x
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: The benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry, 7(11), 18-21.
Seligman, M. E. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive psychology progress: Empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410–421. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.5.410
Solomon, R. C. (2004). Foreword. In R. A. Emmons & M. E. McCullough (Eds.), Psychology of gratitude (pp. v–xi). New York: Oxford University Press.
Steele, L. G., & Lynch, S. M. (2013). The pursuit of happiness in China: Individualism, collectivism, and subjective well-being during China’s economic and social transformation. Social Indicators Research, 114(2), 441-451. doi:10.1007/s11205-012-0154-1
Taylor, S. E., Sherman, D. K., Kim, H. S., Jarcho, J., Takagi, K., & Dunagan, M. S. (2004). Culture and social support: Who seeks it and why? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(3), 354–362. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.87.3.354
Toepfer, S. M., Cichy, K., & Peters, P. (2012). Letters of gratitude: Further evidence for author benefits. Journal of Happiness Studies, 13(1), 187–201. doi:10.1007/s10902-011-9257-7
Tsang, J. A., Carpenter, T. P., Roberts, J. A., Frisch, M. B., & Carlisle, R. D. (2014). Why are materialists less happy? The role of gratitude and need satisfaction in the relationship between materialism and life satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 64, 62-66. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2014.02.009
Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of Brief Measures of Positive and Negative Affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063-1070. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.54.6.1063
Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., & Maltby, J. (2008). Gratitude uniquely predicts satisfaction with life: Incremental validity above the domains and facets of the five factor model. Personality and Individual Differences, 45(1), 49–54. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2008.02.019
Yee, L. S., & Walet, M. H. (2013). Materialism and gratitude in Asia. In S. McCarthy, J. Jaafar, A. Kamal & A. Zubair (Eds.), Psychology at work in Asia: Proceeds of the 3rd and 4th Asian Psychological Association Conferences and the 4th International Conference on Organizational Psychology (pp. 429-443). UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Zinken, J., & Rossi, G. (2016). Assistance and other forms of cooperative engagement. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 49(1), 20–26. doi:10.1080/08351813.2016.1126439
Zou, X., & Cai, H. (2016). Charting China’s rising individualism in names, songs and attitudes. Retrieved April 28, 2017 from https://hbr.org/2016/03/charting-chinas-rising-individualism-in-names-songs-and-attitudes