The Roots of Gratitude (Epilogue)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


There is no doubt that gratitude is challenging to understand, despite an
intense research focus on gratitude in recent years amongst the sciences
in particular. Indeed, whilst there have been considerable insights gained,
current disciplinary contexts have, by and large, failed to unravel many
of the complexities of what gratitude is, how it operates, and its deeper
meaning to people and societies. For example, given that it remains most
straightforward to focus on gratitude at an individual level, our understanding
of the cultural context in which gratitude emerges remains rather
scanty. Equally, it has proven far easier to consider gratitude in relation to
relatively limited scales of human relationships and without considering
how it might emerge in relation to nature or to divine beings. Perhaps most
perplexingly, an emphasis on gratitude as a source of personal wellbeing
in modern industrialized contexts (i. e., Western, Industrialized, Educated,
Rich, Democratic [WIERD] contexts) contrasts rather oddly with a lack of
focus or even expression of gratitude in many nonindustrialized contexts.
Whilst frequently lauded as a panacea for many emotional ills, gratitude
remains still rather poorly understood and difficult to define. A virtue in
some circles, and particularly through theological approaches, gratitude can appear to be little more than a transaction in others.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-139
Number of pages4
JournalPhilosophy, Theology and the Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2022

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