Positive Emotion Gratitude: Impact on Perceived Stress & Psychological Resilience


Name: Brenda Morgan

Rank: Maj.

Organization: Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine

Performance Site: Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD; 882nd Training Group/393rd Training Squadron, Sheppard AFB, TX

Year Published: 2010

Abstract Status: Final


The U.S. military members’ seemingly poor adaptability to traumatic stressors is a risk to force health that has resulted in intensification of scrutiny by leaders charged with ensuring sufficient and appropriate services.  Resources are targeted at the 10% of military members with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder while as many as 28% are struggling with diminished mental health (increased depressive symptoms, relationship problems, more sick days).  Historically, psychological resilience research has been service-specific, combat focused, and treatment-based.  Efficacy of current psychological resilience building programs is uncertain.  Air Force (AF) programs are under revision but, unlike other services, the AF has not instituted comprehensive psychological resilience building programs.  Psychological resilience is enhanced by protective factors such as: fitness, humor, hope, social support, sense of purpose, and optimism.  In civilian populations evidence supports that increased positive emotions (PE) is associated with improvement in psychological resilience but outcomes in military samples are undetermined. 

The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of PE gratitude on perceived stress and psychological resilience in a sample of enlisted AF medical technician students.  Using a pre/post-test design, one hundred thirty five subjects will be randomized to three groups: Grateful, Hassles, and Neutral.  Subjects will make a list 3 times weekly for 3 weeks: the Gratitude Group will list five things grateful for; the Hassles Group, five things causing a hassle; and the Neutral Group, five general occurrences. Repeated measures analysis of variance will be used to analyze differences within groups over time and between groups.

The specific aims of the study are to: (1) Determine differences in daily gratitude between Gratitude, Hassles, and Neutral groups; (2) Determine differences in positive affect between Gratitude, Hassles, and Neutral groups; (3) Determine differences in perceived stress between Gratitude, Hassles, and Neutral groups; (4) Determine differences in psychological resilience between Gratitude, Hassles, and Neutral groups.


Final Report is available on NTRL: https://ntrl.ntis.gov/NTRL/dashboard/searchResults/titleDetail/PB2013101...