Picking up a pint of ice cream. Issuing a compliment. Doing your partner's chores. All are small acts that provoke gratitude and strengthen relationships, say the authors of a new study.
Researchers studied 65 couples who were in committed, satisfying relationships and tracked the day-to-day fluctuations in relationship satisfaction -- the so-called "ups and downs." The researchers found that feelings of gratitude boost the health of relationships. Both the giver and the receiver of an act of kindness benefit, said the lead author of the study, Sara Algoe, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
The emotion of gratitude helps people find and then bond to people who care about their welfare, the study finds.
"Gratitude triggers a cascade of responses within the person who feels it in that very moment, changing the way the person views the generous benefactor, as well as motivations toward the benefactor," Algoe said in a news release. "This is especially true when a person shows that they care about the partner's needs and preferences."
The study is published online in the journal Personal Relationships.
-- Shari Roan
Photo credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times