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Barbara (2004) has discussed the concepts of gratitude, what it stands for, and its meaning to different people. The author has explored the lasting benefits of people’s fleeting experiences of gratitude and other positive emotions. She has explored the benefits ranging from personal and social development to individual health and well-being and community strength and harmony. In this paper, she has proposed a new model to assess gratitude, called the ‘broaden and build theory of positive emotions. The theory describes the form of positive emotions in terms of broadened though action repertoires and describes their function in terms of building enduring personal resources and provides a new perspective on the evolved adaptive significance of positive emotions.
Barbara (2004) begins by first the definition of gratitude as an experience that is pleasant and has cited authors who suggest that gratitude mitigates against aversive experiences such as resentment, envy, and regret. Barbara begins by arguing that there are three moral functions: it serves as a moral barometer, a moral motivator, and a moral reinforcement. She places gratitude in the broader conceptualization of positive emotions and benefits that range from personal and social development to individual health and well-being and community strength and harmony (p.145).
Barbara has briefly analyzed the emotions that arise from gratitude and she suggests the emotions can be conceptualized as multi component response tendencies that unfold over relatively short time spans. According to the author, an emotional process begins with an individual assessment of the personal meaning and it triggers a cascade of responses tendencies that are manifested across loosely coupled component systems such as subjective experience, facial expression, and physiological changes. She has also examined a few classical theories on emotions and gratitude (p. 146).
Delving deeper, Barbara has proposed the ‘broaden and build theory of positive emotions and she justifies the name because positive emotions appear to broaden people’s momentary thought-action repertoires and build their enduring personal resources. She argues that positive emotions have a complementary effect and gives an example that Joy appears to broaden by creating the urge to play, push the limits and be creative, urges evident not only in social and physical behavior but also in intellectual and artistic behavior and that Pride, which is a distinct positive emotion that follows personal achievement with others as well as to envision even greater achievements in the future (p. 147-148).
Barbara has suggested that gratitude arises when a beneficiary perceives that a benefactor has intentionally acted to improve the beneficiary’s well-being. She comments further that gratitude also requires the capacity to empathize with others. Beneficiaries experience gratitude and only when they recognize and appreciate the benefactor has expended effort to give them an altruistic gift. The author reasons that grateful people do not immediately a tit for tat gratitude favor but creatively consider a wide range of pro-social actions by symbolic gestures such as giving gifts (p.150).
The author further adds that gratitude serves to build and strengthen bonds of friendship, evokes reciprocal altruism, and in instances where the gift cannot be reciprocated, gratitude motivates permanent faithfulness and obligation and examples are children’s relationships with their parents and relationships with God (p. 151).
Barbara has argued that it is important that all the goods that gratitude builds, close friendships, civil communities, spiritual practice, and skills for loving are enduring reserves that can be drawn on in times of need (p. 152).
The author has proposed a number of issues for future studies such as testing multiple hypotheses about gratitude, can gratitude be distinguished from feeling indebted, and if it could lead to adverse behavior (p.160).
The author has examined the concept of gratitude and she has proposed the ‘broaden and build theory of positive emotions that describes gratitude as forms of positive emotions in terms of broadened through action repertoires and describes their function in terms of building enduring personal resources and provides a new perspective on the evolved adaptive significance of positive emotions.
Barbara Fredrickson L, (2004), Gratitude, Like other positive emotions broadens and Builds, (Eds) Emmons Robert A.,McCullough Michael E., The Psychology of Gratitude. Oxford University Press.