Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Eugene S. Huebner


Identifying psychological strengths that foster healthy development in youth has become a topic of exploration in the field of positive psychology (e.g., Suldo & Huebner, 2004; Valle et al., 2006). Gratitude is a promising trait-like characteristic with qualities indicative of a potential psychological strength that may serve as a protective factor for early adolescents in the face of stressful life events. This study utilized data from a sample of 1,880 middle school students from the Southeastern United States. Hierarchical regression analyses investigated gratitude’s role as a moderator in the relationship between stressful life events and adolescent well-being. Specifically, gratitude’s ability to moderate the relationship between prior stressful life events and early adolescents’ levels of life satisfaction, externalizing behaviors, and internalizing behaviors was examined. The interaction between prior stressful life events and gratitude was found to significantly predict early adolescents’ levels of life satisfaction and externalizing behaviors, but not internalizing behaviors. Taken together, the results provide support for the consideration of gratitude as a key psychological strength in early adolescents. Future research should replicate and expand on the conclusions from this study by further examining gratitude’s role in buffering against the development of psychopathology and promoting positive mental health in youth.


© 2022, Mimi Scott Webb