ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Ginger Can Ease Nausea From Chemotherapy Treatments
Ginkgo No Shield Against Alzheimer's
Acupuncture Eases Breast Cancer Treatment Side Effects
ANIMAL CARE
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Chronic Low Back Pain Is on the Rise
In Elderly Women, Hip Fractures Often Follow Arm Breaks
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
CANCER
Vitamin C Shows Promise as Cancer Treatment
Wristbands May Lessen Nausea After Radiation
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
CAREGIVING
Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Robots May Come to Aging Boomers' Rescue
Diabetes Epidemic Now Poses Challenges for Nursing Homes
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Secondhand Smoke Quickly Affects Blood Vessels
Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
DENTAL, ORAL
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
Hormones May Be to Blame for Women's Cavity Rates
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
DIABETES
'Standard' Glucose Test May Be Wrong One for Obese Children
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Brown Rice Bests White for Diabetes Prevention
DIET, NUTRITION
The High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) Debate
Drinking Your Way to Health? Perhaps Not
Fish Oil's Benefits Remain Elusive
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Staying Slim Is Good for the Environment
Ozone-Depleting Inhalers Being Phased Out
Greenhouse Gases Hazardous to Your Health
EYE CARE, VISION
Don't Lose Sight of Halloween Safety
Diabetic Eye Disease Rates Soaring
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
FITNESS
Will the Wii Keep You Fit?
Antioxidants Blunt Exercise Benefit, Study Shows
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Hoping for a Happy Family Holiday? Here's How
Why Am I So Tired? Could It Be Low Thyroid?
Fructose Boosts Blood Pressure, Studies Find
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Whole Grains Lower Risk of Heart Failure
Risk Factor for Stroke More Common Among Whites
Cherry-Enriched Diet Cut Heart Risks in Rats
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Childhood Dairy Intake Boosts Bone Health Later On
Coconut Oil May Help Fight Childhood Pneumonia
6 Million U.S. Kids Lack Enough Vitamin D
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
MENTAL HEALTH
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Meaningful Conversations Boost Kids' Language Skills
Bullying Seems to Affect Kids Years Later
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Calcium Supplements Cut Blood Lead Levels During Pregnancy
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
SENIORS
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
Healthy Diet Could Cut Alzheimer's Disease Risk
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
WOMEN'S HEALTH
How Much Fish to Eat While Pregnant?
Acupuncture May Help Relieve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Add your Article

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