Previous generations are always grumbling about the current one. "They're so ungrateful," people give as a common issue with every group of teenagers ever. "Why can't they just be thankful for everything we have done for them?" And science has indicated that teenagers would be better-off if they were more grateful, though not necessarily for the reasons that their elders cite. Teens are happier, less likely to have abuse drug and alcohol problems and are less likely to have behavioral problems if they are more grateful.
Lead author Giacomo Bono, psychology professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills, said that increases in gratefulness over a four-year period correlated with increases in well-being.
Gratitude was measured with a survey administered to 700 students between the ages of 10 and 14. Four years later, the same survey was given to the same group of students.
When compared to the 20 percent of teens who were the least grateful, the most grateful 20 percent of teens were 15 percent more likely to have a sense of meaning in life, 15 percent more satisfied with their direction in life, 17 percent more hopeful for their futures, 13 percent less likely to have negative emotions and 15 percent less likely to be depressed. (It can be ascertained that "depression" and "clinical depression" were measured in two different ways.)
Even if students did not start off the survey with a lot of gratitude, an increase in gratitude will still benefit teens. The top 10 percent of students who showed the greatest increase in gratitude demonstrated 9 percent less delinquency than the bottom 10 percent of students who displayed the smallest or no increases in gratitude.
While the study is interesting, it would certainly be fascinating to see the questions asked of students to determine their level of gratitude. In addition, one wonders about the impact of socioeconomic factors and home lives. Students with more stable, economically secure home lives are probably more grateful and less likely to have issues with depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and delinquency than their peers who are not so fortunate.
Ungrateful teens can at least take refuge in one thing – they have always been seen as ungrateful. Socrates famously said, "“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”
Bono's findings were presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention in Orlando on Sunday.
Published by Medicaldaily.com