International Journal of
Psychology and Counselling

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Psychol. Couns.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2499
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJPC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 220

Full Length Research Paper

Improving well-being with a gratitude exercise in Japanese workers: A randomized controlled trial

  Yasumasa Otsuka1*, Masashi Hori2 and Junko Kawahito1,3    
  1Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Education, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan. 2Center for the Advancement of Higher Education, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan. 3Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, Japan.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 05 July 2012
  •  Published: 31 August 2012



Few individual-focused interventions that focus on improving the well-being of employees have been conducted in the workplace. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of worksite intervention consisting of a gratitude exercise on employees’ well-being, such as positive affect, life satisfaction and subjective happiness among Japanese workers. A randomized controlled trial was conducted among daytime local-government employees. Participants in the gratitude group were asked to write down up to five people to whom the participant was grateful or thankful in the past week, and participants in the control group were asked to write down up to five events that occurred during the past week, for 4 weeks. Gratitude-related feelings, positive affect, life satisfaction, and subjective happiness were measured as well-being indices three times, that is, at baseline, immediately post intervention and one-month after the intervention. Two-way analysis of variance revealed that gratitude-related feelings and positive affect improved in both groups. No significant effects were observed on life satisfaction and subjective happiness. Gratitude intervention may be beneficial to increase gratitude-related feelings and positive affect. However, similar tendencies were observed in the control group who were asked to simply write down five events that occurred during the week.


Key words: Gratitude, positive affect, life satisfaction, subjective happiness, intervention, employees, randomized controlled trial, Japan.