The Effect of Gratitude on Well-being: Should We Prioritize Positivity or Meaning?

Ofer I. Atad, Pninit Russo-Netzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The psychological research into gratitude has overwhelmingly focused on the benefits of higher levels of gratitude. However, recent research suggests that positive psychology interventions to enhance gratitude are not always suitable and the effectiveness of an intervention depends on psycho-contextual factors, personal characteristics, and boundary conditions. The current study aimed to explore and compare the effect of two possible boundary conditions (prioritizing positivity and prioritizing meaning) on well-being levels, following a gratitude intervention. Replicating and extending the findings of the seminal 2005 study by Seligman et al., the current study explored the complex dynamics of gratitude and well-being in a sample of 448 participants. This study’s results replicated Seligman et al.’s finding suggesting a significant increase in satisfaction with life following a gratitude intervention. However, this trend was not significant when eudaimonic well-being was used as the dependent variable. Further analysis revealed that the intervention was most beneficial for people who prioritized both meaning and positivity in their lives, whereas those with different prioritizing patterns enjoyed only short-term gains. In addition, those who prioritize neither positivity nor meaning in their lives did not benefit from the intervention. This suggests implications for practitioners, mental health providers and organizations as consciously integrating the prioritization of meaning and positivity into one’s daily routines along with various gratitude activities which are aligned with one’s values and interests may contribute to gratitude interventions’ efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1265
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Happiness Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Eudaimonic well-being
  • Gratitude
  • Intervention
  • Prioritizing meaning
  • Prioritizing positivity
  • Satisfaction with life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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