Jeffrey Froh, Psy.D., assistant professor of psychology
Dr. Jeffrey J. Froh specializes in studying the effects of expressing gratitude, particularly in children and adolescents. Gratitude is the emotion of thankfulness and joy experienced when people receive something beneficial, such as a gift, or when someone does something kind or helpful for them.
In a study published in 2008, Dr. Froh found that middle school students who counted their blessings and acknowledged the things they were grateful for reported higher levels of well-being than those who did not. Specifically, students who counted their blessings reported more gratitude, optimism, life satisfaction, and less negative emotions. The most significant finding was the robust relationship between gratitude and satisfaction with school experience at both the immediate post-test and 3-week follow-up.
In 2009, Dr. Froh was involved in two studies that looked at how we express gratitude. The result showed that women are better able then men to feel and express gratitude towards others and thus derive the social and personal benefits that come from such expressions. Among adolescents, girls tended to express gratitude more readily than boys, but boys may actually derive more of a benefit when they are able to do so, he found.
"Girls are socialized to express these softer emotions more than boys. So when a boy expresses thanks its a big deal," he said. "In a sense, they're going beyond their expected gender role." The first study was published in the Journal of Personality, the second in the Journal of Adolescence.