An Investigation of Targeted Mindfulness on Self Report Gratitude in College Students
Authors:Jansen Dahill, Kinsey LIbby, Abigail Shepherd
Mentor:Amanda Higley, Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Point Loma Nazarene University
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a daily gratitude intervention on college student’s subjective happiness, altruism, and gratitude levels. Participants were 68 male and female undergraduate students (mean age = 20.05 years) attending Point Loma Nazarene University. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three intervention groups (Blessings, Hassles or Daily Life Events) in which each group received daily prompts to list as many things that they were either grateful for (Blessings, N=22) hassled by (Hassles, N = 28) or events that occurred in their day (Events, N=18) into their online journal. Daily prompts continued for 1 week. On the 7th day, participants were assessed for changes in self-reported gratitude, altruistic behavior, and subjective happiness. A 3 x 2 (Intervention x Time) repeated measures analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) controlling for baseline differences in attachment to God, revealed a statistically significant main effect of the intervention on subjective ratings of happiness (F(2, 64) = 15.46, p < 0.05, η2= 0.33), and gratitude (F(2, 71) = 10.18, p < 0.05, η2= 0.590. Bonferroni Pairwise comparisons indicated a significant difference between the Blessings Condition compared to the Hassles and Events condition, such that participants in the Blessings condition reported significantly greater subjective happiness (M=19.84±1.61 vs. M=19.74±2.14 and M=19.60±2.70, respectively, p < 0.05) and significantly higher ratings of gratitude (M=128.6 ± 2.67 vs. M =102.78 ± 2.48 and M =116.67 ± 3.06, respectively) following one week of daily intervention. There was no significant change in self-reported altruistic behavior (p > 0.05). These findings lend experimental support to the old adage of “Counting your Blessings” and may have clinically relevant implications in the possible treatment of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Future studies are needed to further validate these findings.