Examinations of the influence of culture on how gratitude is experienced are sparse, as are studies that simultaneously explore developmental differences in understandings of gratitude. This paper presents three studies that examine whether perceptions and experiences of gratitude differ across children, adolescents and adults in two individualistic, WEIRD and Commonwealth cultures—Australia and the UK. Studies 1a (N = 88, ages 17–39) and 1b (N = 77, ages 17–25) provide initial insights into “features of gratitude” in Australia through two stages of a prototype analysis. These features are compared to a previous prototype study of gratitude in the UK, alongside a further comparison to the US. Study 2 employs vignettes to examine how perceptions of the benefactor, benefit and mixed emotions influence the degree of gratitude experienced across adolescents and adults in Australia (N = 1937, ages 11–85), with a comparison to the UK (N = 398, ages 12–65). In Study 3, factors examined in Study 2 are adapted into accessible story workbooks for younger children (Australia N=135, ages 9–11; UK N=62, ages 9–11). Results across these studies demonstrate similarities and differences in understandings and experiences of gratitude across cultures. While adults across Australia and the UK responded similarly to gratitude scenarios, cross-cultural differences are observed between children and adolescents in these two countries. Developmental differences are noted in relation to more sophisticated reasoning around gratitude, such as recognition of ulterior motives. These findings highlight the need for gratitude research and interventions to be cross-culturally, and developmentally, responsive.
- prototype analysis
- mixed emotion