Exploring the Positive Emotions of Gratitude, Pride, and Happiness
This study looked at the positive emotions of gratitude, pride, and happiness. Sixty-three Vanderbilt University undergraduate participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions assessing their appraisals, motivations, and behaviors for one of the target emotions. Participants were asked to describe in detail a specific situation in which they experienced one of these emotions and then respond to a series of questions about their experience, as well as about their dispositional tendencies for these emotions. We discovered that gratitude was associated with higher usage of third-person pronouns, higher reports of other-responsibility, and higher associations with negative emotions. Pride was associated with higher reports of self-responsibility and higher levels of competitiveness. Happiness resulted in the highest ratings of positive affect. The results indicate that although happiness and pride appear to be purely positive emotions, gratitude has several associations with negative emotions, resulting in a new interpretation of its meaning.