Gratitude Experiment Fall 2022

Each semester students in Michael Bugeja’s media ethics class earn extra credit by participating in an experiment—contacting a loved one, family member, mentor or friend and expressing gratitude. You can read a published article about past gratitude experiments by clicking here.  

The purpose of the exercise is to instill in students the means to raise their own happiness quotient. Gratitude typically gladdens us along with the person to whom we express our feelings.

Few people take the time to thank a person who played a big role in their lives. It could be a teacher. A parent. A friend.

Students are told that they can increase their happiness multifold by writing a gratitude letter and then reading it to a cherished person, preferably in person or via telephone or facetime.

After the call, they record their own feelings.

Here are the data from the Fall 2022 media ethics class:

7 participants reported a positive experience and increase in mood after the exercise.
9 participants reported feeling more relaxed or having a weight lifted off of them.
9 participants felt thankful or appreciative of the experiment.
3 participants reported wanting to do this more.
N=37 Recurring keywords: Uplifted, relaxed, warm, joyful, happier

Gratitude Experiment Coded Responses:

1: Surprised by the increase in happiness

2: Array of emotions, thankful, joy, beneficial

3: Understanding, nonjudgement, love, warmth

4: Lucky, happier, warm, complete, happier

5: Peace of mind, happy

6: Joyful, comforted, better mood

7: Comfortable, happiness

8: Uplifting, refreshing, felt better, happier

9: Felt good, feel happier, a boost of energy

10: Increased happiness, positivity, thankfulness

11: Emotional, felt good, sad it wasn’t in person

12: Incredible, really happy, felt joy

13: Happiness, increased mood

14: Increased happiness, hope, incredibly happy

15: Brought peace, uplifting, boosted happiness

16: Appreciative, happier

17: Calming effect, overwhelming happiness

18: Satisfied, happy, glad

19: Warm, fulfilled

20: Thankful, glad, closer to spouse

21: Uplifted, happier

22: Thankful, grateful

23: Felt good, day got better

24: Felt good, need to do this more

25: Wonderful feeling, going to do more often

26: Felt good

27: Overwhelmingly happy, uplifted

28: Felt very good, increased happiness

29: Rush of adrenaline, significantly happier, joy

30: Emotional, huge weight lifted

31: Emotional, relived, grateful

32: Better vibe, relaxed, happier

33: Joyful, happier mood

34: Uplifting feeling, inner peace, internal security

35: Lifted weight

36: Happier, lifted spirits

37: Felt really good, uplifting, increased happiness

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