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The effect of state gratitude on cognitive flexibility: A within-subject experimental approach.

Hartanto, A., Ong, N. C. H., Ng, W. Q., & Majeed, N. M.



Considerable research has examined the relationship between positive emotion and cognitive flexibility. Less is known, however, about the causal relationship between discrete positive emotions, specifically gratitude, and cognitive flexibility. Given that different positive emotions may dissimilarly affect cognitive functioning, we sought to examine the effect of state gratitude on cognitive flexibility. A pilot study with ninety-five participants was employed to ensure the effectiveness of our gratitude manipulation. One hundred and thirteen participants were recruited for the main study, which utilized a within-subject experimental approach. After the manipulation, participants completed a well-established task-switching paradigm, which was used to measure cognitive flexibility. Contrary to our hypotheses, we did not find any evidence that state gratitude may enhance cognitive flexibility. The current study identified some boundary conditions around the potential benefits of the experience of gratitude.
Keywords: cognitive flexibility, gratitude, prefrontal cortex, positive emotions

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