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Surprise me! On the impact of unexpected benefits on other-praising gratitude expressions

Weiss, Alexa, Burgmer, Pascal, Lange, Jens (2020) Surprise me! On the impact of unexpected benefits on other-praising gratitude expressions. Cognition and Emotion, . Article Number UNSPECIFIED. ISSN 0269-9931. (doi:10.1080/02699931.2020.1797638) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:81749)

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Gratitude reinforces social bonds. This relationship-regulating function depends on whether and how it is expressed. People can express gratitude in different ways: Beneficiaries may emphasize how they profited from a benefit (self-benefiting) or focus on the benefactor’s actions and characteristics related to it (other-praising). What underlies these expressive styles remains unclear. Based on findings that other-praising gratitude expressions have unique positive effects on interpersonal relationships, four studies (N = 1,188) investigated a novel antecedent of these expressions: unexpectedness of the benefit. In Study 1, we content-coded participants’ thank-you notes for an actual Christmas present. Path modeling revealed that unexpectedness of the benefit predicted other-praising, whereas happiness with the present predicted self-benefiting. These results were robust to relevant covariates and mirrored by participants’ self-reported self- benefiting and other-praising intentions. Studies 2-4 (preregistered) investigated samples from two different populations and experimentally manipulated (un)expectedness of recalled or imagined benefits. Given mixed experimental results, we conducted an internal meta-analysis. Across experimental studies, unexpected benefits increased other-praising, albeit weakly so, but not self-benefiting. In addition, the effect of unexpectedness on other-praising was significantly different from that on self-benefiting. We discuss potential processes and moderators of the effect of unexpected benefits on gratitude expressions.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/02699931.2020.1797638
Uncontrolled keywords: Gratitude, Gratitude Expressions, Unexpectedness, Surprise, Praise
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Social Psychology
Depositing User: Pascal Burgmer
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2020 15:54 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2020 08:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Burgmer, Pascal:
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