Gratitude, Gratitude Intervention and Well-being in Malaysia

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


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.

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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
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.


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