ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Molecule in Skin May Link Eczema and Asthma
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Grapefruit Compound Inhibits Hepatitis C Virus
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Yoga May Bring Calm to Breast Cancer Treatment
ANIMAL CARE
Beware of Dog Bites
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Scientists Discover How Osteoarthritis Destroys Cartilage
Soccer's a Winner for Building Bone Health in Girls
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
CANCER
To Quit Smoking, Try Logging On
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
Yoga Eases Sleep Problems Among Cancer Survivors
CAREGIVING
Mild Flu Season Coming to a Close
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
Bariatric Surgery Centers Don't Deliver Better Outcomes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
Mercury in Fish Linked to High Blood Pressure
Years of Exposure to Traffic Pollution Raises Blood Pressure
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
DENTAL, ORAL
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Gum Disease Treatment Doesn't Cut Preterm Birth Risk
Amino Acid May Be Key to Strong Teeth
DIABETES
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
Fruits, Vegetables, Teas May Cut Smokers' Cancer Risk
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
Atkins Diet Tougher on Heart After Weight Loss
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
Hurricane Threats: Time to Batten Down the Hatches
Environmental Chemicals May Affect Male Reproduction
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids' Eye Injuries From Golf Clubs Rare But Severe
Kids Who Spend More Time Outdoors Have Better Vision
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
FITNESS
Simple Steps Get Walkers Moving
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Any Exercise Good After a Heart Attack
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
Bowel Prep Harder on Women Than Men
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
Research Shows Genetic Activity of Antioxidants
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
HEAD & NECK
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Toothbrushing May Stave Off Heart Woes
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Bacterial Infections May Succumb to Honey
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Music May Temper Pain in Preemies
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
School Meals Need to Get Healthier
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
The Dark Side of Vegetarianism
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Worries About Weight Are Tied to Teen Suicide Tries
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
Sugary Colas Tied to Gestational Diabetes
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
Any Old Cane Won't Do
Laughter Can Stimulate a Dull Appetite
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Vitamin D Deficiency Puts 40% of U.S. Infants and Toddlers At Risk
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Active Young Women Need Calcium, Vitamin D
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A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All

For those feeling dissatisfied with a friend or partner, saying "thank you" may improve your attitude about the relationship, new study findings suggest.

It turns out that expressed gratitude isn't just good for the recipient. It strengthens the relationship by causing the person expressing thanks to feel more responsible for their partner's welfare.

While previous research on gratitude has found that expressions of thanks strengthen a relationship by increasing satisfaction with it, the new research, published online recently in Psychological Science, looked at the effect of expressed gratitude on what psychologists call "communal strength" -- the degree of responsibility one partner or friend feels for another.

Gratitude, when expressed, boosted that communal strength, according to the study's lead author, Nathaniel Lambert, a research associate at Florida State University in Tallahassee. The finding makes sense because "when you express gratitude to someone, you are focusing on the good things that person has done for you," he said. "It makes you see them in a more positive light and helps you to focus in on their good traits."

Lambert and his research team tested the idea that expressing gratitude helps strengthen relationships in this way by doing three different studies.

In one study group, 137 college students completed a survey regarding how often they expressed gratitude to a friend or partner. Results showed that gratitude was positively linked with the person's perception of this "communal" strength.

In another study, involving 218 college students, expressing gratitude predicted boosts in the expresser's perception of the relationship's strength over time.

In a third study group, 75 men and women were randomly assigned to one of four groups. Over a three-week period, one group expressed gratitude to a friend; another thought grateful thoughts about a friend, while a third thought about daily activities and a fourth had positive interactions with a friend.

Those who expressed gratitude reported more relationship strength at the study's end than did those in the other groups.

"The person doing the thanking comes to perceive the relationship as more communal, to see the person more worthwhile to sacrifice for, to go the extra mile to help out," Lambert said.

Although the studies only looked at the people expressing gratitude, Lambert speculated that "those who are being thanked will often feel an urge to reciprocate. They will want to express their gratitude back. It can become kind of an upward spiral."

A simple "thank you" might be just what a relationship that's turning sour needs, he said. "In relationships today, often people get mired down into what the person isn't doing for them. That's one of the neat things about gratitude. It potentially can change the trajectory from a negative focus to more of a positive outlook on the relationship."

The new study is "an important extension of previous research," said Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at the University of California Davis, a long-time gratitude researcher and author of Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

To his knowledge, Emmons said, "this is the first research study that has examined expressed gratitude in the context of an ongoing, close relationship."

The researchers have documented an "easy and often overlooked way to strengthen relationships," he said. "Gratitude does knit together relationships and bind people into networks of reciprocal obligations."

One weakness of the study, he said, is that the participants were college students, but that is typical of much research. More women than men participated, and that could affect results, Emmons said. Only 15 of the 75 people in the third study, for instance, were men.

"Studies have shown that men are more 'gratitude-challenged,'" he added.

Even so, those who want to develop the gratitude habit can do so by becoming "more vocal about gratitude ... by expressing it more regularly," Emmons said. "Even if one does not feel it, research strongly demonstrates that going through the motions can lead to the emotion."

SOURCES: Nathaniel M. Lambert, Ph.D. candidate, research associate, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.; Robert Emmons, Ph.D., professor, psychology, University of California, Davis, author, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier; March 5, 2010, Psychological Science, online Published on: April 11, 2010