Symposium 6th World Congress on Positive Psychology 2019

Gratitude Increases Obedience Readiness: Evidence In Support Of The Social Alignment Perspective Of Gratitude (#25)

Eddie M. W. Tong 1 , Ching-Xing Ng 1 , Jonathan B. H. Ho 1 , Emmeline Chua 1 , Isabel J. L. Yap 1 , Jomel W. X. Ng 1 , Ed Diener 2 3
  1. Department of Psychology, National University of Singapore, Singapore, SINGAPORE
  2. Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
  3. Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottlesville, Virginia, USA

This talk presents five experimental studies that test the hypothesis that gratitude predicts greater obedience. Studies 1 to 4 showed that participants who were induced to feel grateful (using recall or realistic method) were more likely to obey instructions to put live worms into a grinder than those induced to feel a neutral state, joy, or admiration. Study 5 showed that induced gratitude made participants more prone to obey instructions to lie for more monetary incentives in a die-rolling game than induced neutral and joy states. This effect of gratitude disappeared among grateful participants who were led to devalue social harmony, suggesting that the gratitude-obedience effect is due to the greater need to maintain social relations. The findings support the social-alignment perspective that because of a stronger tendency to align with social conventions and directions, gratitude increases the tendency to conform and obey, leading to a range of outcomes some of which may not be socially desirable.