Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

E. Scott Huebner


An increase in the emphasis of positive aspects of functioning has led to expanded attention paid to the field of positive psychology. Within in this arena, the construct of gratitude has emerged as a factor of interest, specifically in adults; however, while a basis for research of gratitude in children exists, it is lacking in breadth. Support for gratitude’s significant relations with psychosocial, psychological, and academic factors has been shown in prior research, and presumed personal and environmental antecedents of gratitude have been indicated. The present study was exploratory in nature and included a sample of 1506 students from four middle schools in the Southeastern United States. We investigated the relations between gratitude and several previously examined variables across studies of children and adults, including extraversion, neuroticism, social support, and stressful life events. Results of a hierarchical multiple regression analysis indicated that after controlling for gender, SES, and self-identification as Hispanic, the reported occurrence of major stressful life events added statistically significant variance beyond the temporally precedent personality variables (extraversion and neuroticism) and social support (parents, peers, and teachers) to the explanation of gratitude differences. Contrary to expectations, students’ levels of social support and neuroticism did not appear to add statistical significance to the explanation of gratitude. Implications of these results are discussed. Future research should focus on clarifying the antecedents of gratitude, as research-related interest in this variable is continually surfacing and gaps remain in the literature regarding the origins of gratitude.