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This research examined the dual function of gratitude for relationship maintenance in close relationships. In a longitudinal study among married couples, the authors tested the dyadic effects of gratitude over three time points for approximately 4 years following marriage. They found that feelings of gratitude toward a partner stem from the partner’s relationship maintenance behaviors, partly because such behaviors create the perception of responsiveness to one’s needs. In turn, gratitude motivates partners to engage in relationship maintenance. Hence, the present model emphasizes that gratitude between close partners (a) originates from partners’ relationship maintenance behaviors and the perception of a partner’s responsiveness and (b) promotes a partner’s reciprocal maintenance behaviors. Thus, the authors’ findings add credence to their model, in that gratitude contributes to a reciprocal process of relationship maintenance, whereby each partner’s maintenance behaviors, perceptions of responsiveness, and feelings of gratitude feed back on and influence the other’s behaviors, perceptions, and feelings.
Source: “Maintaining Close Relationships Gratitude as a Motivator and a Detector of Maintenance Behavior” from Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
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