Growing Up GratefulGives Teens Multiple Mental Health Benefits, New Research Shows
ORLANDO, Fla.—Grateful teens are more likely than their less grateful peers to be happy, less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol and less likely to have behavior problems at school, according to research presented at the American Psychological Association’s 120th Annual Convention.
“Gratitude played an important role in many areas of positive mental health of the teens in our study,” said lead author Giacomo Bono, PhD, psychology professor at California State University. “Increases in gratitude over a four-year period were significantly related to improvements in life satisfaction, happiness, positive attitudes and hope.”
To measure the development of gratefulness, researchers asked 700 students ages 10 to 14 to complete questionnaires in their classroom at the beginning of the study and four years later to provide comparison data. When comparing the results of the least grateful 20 percent of the students with the most grateful 20 percent, they found that teens with the most gratitude by the end of the four-year period had:
gained 15 percent more of a sense of meaning in their life;
become 15 percent more satisfied with their life overall (at home, at school, with their neighborhood, with their friends and with themselves);
become 17 percent more happy and more hopeful about their lives;
experienced a 13 percent drop in negative emotions and a 15 percent drop in depressive symptoms.