Gies College of Business Professor Aric Rindfleisch Co-Authors Paper on Fostering Gratitude in Teens

Fostering gratitude can actually reduce materialism and increase generosity in adolescents, according to new research

Aric Rindfleisch

Fostering gratitude can actually reduce materialism and increase generosity in adolescents, according to new research study co-authored by Gies College of Business professor Aric Rindfleisch. The paper, “The Impact of Gratitude on Adolescent Materialism and Generosity,” has been published in The Journal of Positive Psychology. It shows that adolescents who were asked to keep a gratitude journal – a daily log of things they were thankful for – for two weeks, showed a decrease in materialism and an increase in generosity.

This research was broken up in two studies. The first study showed that children ages 11-17 who possessed a more grateful disposition were less materialistic. Study two took that one step further. Adolescents were divided into two groups. One group was asked to keep a gratitude journal; the other group just kept a journal of their everyday activities. After only two weeks, the group that kept the gratitude journal showed a decrease in materialism. The two groups were also given $10 cash. They could either keep the money or donate some to charity. The group that kept the gratitude journal donated 60% more money to charity than the group who kept the regular daily journal.

“Both groups had the same materialistic tendencies at the beginning of the two weeks, but those who kept a gratitude journal for 14 days had their materialism level reduced,” said Rindfleisch, Professor of Business Administration and John M. Jones Professor of Marketing at the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business. “The children who were keeping the journal of their daily events gave around $4.30 to charity. Those who were recording things they were grateful for actually gave a higher amount, $6.80 approximately.”

This is one of the first research studies to show a causation between gratitude, materialism, and generosity. It could provide a roadmap for parents struggling to instill these important values in their children. Rindfleisch suggests parents model this behavior for their children.

“Make every day Thanksgiving,” Rindfleisch suggested. “Thanksgiving is coming up, and at the dinner table or maybe while you're watching TV, state things that you're thankful for as a family. And we also mention the idea in this research of a gratitude jar, in which every day you have some Post-It notes, and members of the family can just jot down things that they were thankful for that day. Maybe somebody was kind to them at school or at work, and drop that in the jar. And maybe every so often every couple of weeks dig in the jar and read them as a family.”

PODCAST: Aric Rindfleisch on Gies Business Today

Media Contact: Mary Kay Dailey, mkdailey@illinois.edu

About Gies College of Business at Illinois
Gies College of Business provides a world-class educational experience for the next generation of business leaders. For more than 100 years, the College has delivered on the promise of innovation in business education, with a commitment to cutting-edge curriculum design and delivery, exceptional experiential learning opportunities, and unparalleled academic excellence. Today our faculty prepare more than 5,100 students, including 3,100 undergraduates, to be at the forefront of innovation and leadership in the global economy. business.illinois.edu

Source: Gies College of Business


Categories: Parenting, Children's Issues

Tags: adolescents, business, charity, children, Gies Business, gratitude, materialism, parenting, psychology, teens, Thanksgiving, UIUC