Date of Award
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology
This field experiment examined the effects of a gratefulness intervention in the context of a Christian church congregation. Two Evangelical congregations with comparable demographic and socio-economic characteristics were enrolled and assigned to the experimental and comparison conditions. In an effort to integrate psychological intervention techniques with established spiritual formation practices, the intervention was developed collaboratively with church leaders. In addition to examining the well-known benefits of gratefulness – strengthening of interpersonal relationships, increased life satisfaction, psychological well-being (PWB), and enhanced spiritual well-being (SWB), this research considered whether the practice of gratitude mobilized participants to engage others inside and outside the congregation. It also considered whether the collaborative approach in conducting the study impacted the perception of psychology among participating clergy and church members. Outcome data were analyzed using mixed-method ANOVAS. Significant within-subject effects were found for PWB, SWB, and life satisfaction. However, since the comparison group showed increases for SWB and life satisfaction in the absence of a gratitude intervention, only improvements in PWB are well supported. No significant changes occurred on measures of interpersonal engagement. As a result of this collaborative study participants rated psychologists and interdisciplinary collaboration more favorably than they had in the beginning. This research represents the first quasi-experiment to study a gratitude intervention within a faith congregation. In spite of methodological limitations, it highlights the potential benefit of gratitude interventions designed in collaboration with clergy.
Uhder, Jens, "The Benefits of Gratitude in Spiritual Formation: Collaborative of Gratefulness in a Christian Church Community" (2016). Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). 193.