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American Psychological Association

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Reviews the book, The Spectrum of Gratitude Experience by John Elfers and Patty Hlava.

Elfers and Hlava articulate the gratitude experience from a scientific perspective. They present key features of the lived gratitude experience in separate chapters but nicely scaffold their argument. These authors effectively unravel the complexity of this affective experience and explain its utility. The authors weave the role of gratitude in interpersonal relationships throughout the book. Principally, they define gratitude as a positive emotional experience derived from being given a benefit, typically (although not exclusively) in caring relationships. The authors present the evolutionary origin of gratitude, define types of gratitude, and discuss its development in one’s identity. Perhaps the most compelling information is on the effects of experiencing gratitude. This book is most relevant for affective scientists. The authors delicately bridge various theories of emotion (e.g., basic, cognitive, action tendencies) to provide a framework for the multifaceted nature of gratitude. You do not need to have a background in psychology to appreciate this book. It would interest anyone who is curious about the human condition.


Accepted version. Psyccritiques, Vol. 62, No. 38 (2017). DOI. © 2017 American Psychological Association. Used with permission.

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