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Episode Summary

Recent psychological studies find that gratitude can help us create, cultivate, and maintain the kinds of relationships that make life worth living. Other studies are finding that gratitude is far more complicated, and plays a nuanced role in our complex emotional lives. Research psychologist Jo-Ann Tsang (Baylor University) joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz to talk about the complicated emotional world that gratitude inhabits, the scientific study of giving thanks and the contexts where it's prosocial or adaptive for us, the dark side of gratitude, and the role it plays in a life of flourishing. This episode was made possible in part by the support of the Gratitude to God Project.

Episode Notes

Recent psychological studies find that gratitude can help us create, cultivate, and maintain the kinds of relationships that make life worth living. Other studies are finding that gratitude is far more complicated, and plays a nuanced role in our complex emotional lives. Research psychologist Jo-Ann Tsang (Baylor University) joins Ryan McAnnally-Linz to talk about the complicated emotional world that gratitude inhabits, the scientific study of giving thanks and the contexts where its prosocial or adaptive for us, the dark side of gratitude, and the role it plays in a life of flourishing.

This episode was made possible in part by the support of the Gratitude to God Project.

About  Jo-Ann Tsang

Jo-Ann Tsang is a social psychologist, and is Associate Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at Baylor University.

Show Notes

  • Gratitude to God Project Website: Psychological, Philosophical and Theological Investigations
  • Tryptophanic food coma dreams of John Madden ranting about football and turducken
  • Daniel Tiger: “Sometimes you feel two feelings at the same time, and that’s okay.”
  • Empirical psychological research on gratitude
  • Intrinsic vs instrumental reasons for being grateful
  • Self-determination theory
  • The downsides of gratitude
  • Gratitude in marriage: matching affective responses of support and gratitude in relationships
  • Gratitude toward God
  • Julie Exline on Spiritual Struggle (link)
  • “It’s not always adaptive to be happy?”
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Find, Remind, Bind Theory
  • What is pro-sociality?
  • What is adaptivity?
  • Happiness is not always adaptive.
  • What’s adaptive depends on your goal in a certain situation.
  • Happiness and adaptivity as malleable concepts that depend on your definition of the good.
  • Does gratitude reduce protest?
  • Increased forgiveness and willingness to accept oppression rather than oppression
  • Quietism and perpetuating unjust structures
  • Gratitude might put on the brakes for the motivation to protest or press for change
  • “Give thanks in all things.” vs “Give thanks for all things.”
  • “Life is complicated.”
  • Gratitude doesn’t rule out anger
  • “How can I feel happy when there’s all these bad things going on?”
  • Is gratitude related to prejudice, stigma, or discrimination?
  • Why is it we keep chasing after happiness?
  • “If you're in a bad relationship, and gratitude's making you stick more strongly with that relationship partner, then that's not good.”
  • The role of gratitude in a life worth living

Production Notes

  • This podcast featured research psychologist Jo-Ann Tsang and theologian Ryan McAnnally-Linz
  • Edited and Produced by Evan Rosa
  • Hosted by Evan Rosa
  • Production Assistance by Macie Bridge and Kaylen Yun
  • A Production of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at Yale Divinity School https://faith.yale.edu/about
  • Support For the Life of the World podcast by giving to the Yale Center for Faith & Culture: https://faith.yale.edu/give

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