With thanks: Gratitude can win you new friends, study shows

August 27, 2014
With thanks: Gratitude can win you new friends
Saying thank you provides a valuable signal that you are someone with whom a high quality relationship could be formed. Credit: Thinkstock

(Medical Xpress)—Parents have long told their children to mind their Ps and Qs, and remember to say thank you. Now the evidence is in on why it matters.

A UNSW-led study has shown for the first time that thanking a new acquaintance for their help makes them more likely to seek an ongoing social with you.

"Saying thank you provides a valuable signal that you are someone with whom a high quality relationship could be formed," says UNSW psychologist Dr Lisa Williams, who conducted the research with Dr Monica Bartlett of Gonzaga University in the US.

The study, published in the journal Emotion, involved 70 who provided advice to a younger student. Some of those advice-givers were thanked for their advice.

The study was designed to test a theory proposed two years ago to explain the benefits to individuals and society of the emotion of . This find-remind-and-bind theory suggests gratitude helps people develop new relationships (find), build on existing relationships (remind), and maintain both (bind).

The study tested the first aspect of the theory – finding.

The university students were led to believe they were mentoring a high school student, and were asked to comment on a university admissions essay, supposedly written by the mentee.

In reply, all mentor participants received a hand written note from their supposed mentee. In about half the cases the note included an expression of gratitude: "Thank you SO much for all the time and effort you put into doing that for me!"

The university students who were thanked were more likely to provide their contact details, such as their phone number or email address, for the mentee than those who were not thanked.

The grateful mentees were also rated as having significantly warmer personalities. The results suggest that the reason why people 'find' grateful others is because of this perceived warmth.

Perhaps surprisingly, this kind of experiment had not been conducted before.

"Our findings represent the first known evidence that expression of gratitude facilitates the initiation of new relationships among previously unacquainted people," says Dr Williams.

"With more people communicating by social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, it would be interesting to find out whether just observing someone express gratitude increases another person's desire to form a relationship with them."

Explore further: New study finds what makes a good mentor and mentee

More information: Emotion, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25111881

Related Stories

New study finds what makes a good mentor and mentee

November 30, 2012
How-to books are full of advice on what makes a good mentor. But what makes a good mentee and what chemistry is needed to make the relationship work?

Gratitude, not 'gimme,' makes for more satisfaction, study finds

April 1, 2014
People who are materialistic are more likely to be depressed and unsatisfied, in part because they find it harder to be grateful for what they have, according to a study by Baylor researchers.

Give thanks, and prosper

April 1, 2014
It's a classic experiment: Sit a kid in front of a single marshmallow and tell him that if he waits a few minutes to eat it, he can have two. The videos of these experiments are overwhelmingly entertaining: The kids squirm ...

Giving thanks could be good for you

November 28, 2013
(HealthDay)—Thanksgiving may be an official day of gratitude, but research suggests that if you make time for "thank you" every day, you might enjoy life more.

Study examines qualities of good and bad mentoring relationships

January 10, 2013
What makes a good mentor? Previous studies have shown the professional benefits of cultivating a strong mentoring relationship, but a recent study co-led by UCSF researchers delved further to analyze the attributes that make ...

Recommended for you

Like adults, children show bias in attributing mental states to others

August 22, 2017
Young children are more likely to attribute mental states to characters that belong to the same group as them relative to characters that belong to an outside group, according to findings published in Psychological Science, ...

High moral reasoning associated with increased activity in the human brain's reward system

August 22, 2017
Individuals who have a high level of moral reasoning show increased activity in the brain's frontostriatal reward system, both during periods of rest and while performing a sequential risk taking and decision making task ...

Wealth disparity and family income impact the brain development of female youth

August 22, 2017
Female teenagers living in neighbourhoods with wide salary gaps and a low-income household show changes to their brain maturation that could indicate a higher risk of developing mental illness in adulthood, suggests a recently ...

Yoga and meditation improve mind-body health and stress resilience

August 22, 2017
Many people report positive health effects from practicing yoga and meditation, and experience both mental and physical benefits from these practices. However, we still have much to learn about how exactly these practices ...

Brain's self-regulation in teens at risk for obesity

August 22, 2017
In a small study that scanned the brains of teenagers while exposing them to tempting "food cues," researchers report that reduced activity in the brain's "self-regulation" system may be an important early predictor of adult ...

New study rebuts the claim that antidepressants do not work

August 18, 2017
A theory that has gained considerable attention in international media, including Newsweek and the CBS broadcast 60 minutes, suggests that antidepressant drugs such as the SSRIs do not exert any actual antidepressant effect. ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

LaPortaMA
not rated yet Aug 27, 2014
Whether or not I concur with their reasoning, I'm glad they posted this.
The more likely reason it works is because the grateful person is one who accepts WHAT IS, and is not struggling or resenting. That makes it easier to be around. After getting to know them, you feel as if you are hearing truth, and that's helpful.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.