Gratitude and indebtedness facilitate cooperative relationships and altruism. Although most of the world endorses some belief in God, gratitude and indebtedness to God have not received adequate empirical attention. The "Gratitude to God" research initiative was created to address this gap, of which the current project is an appendage. This project encapsulates a multiphase research proposal, including three parts; a pilot study and two experimental studies. The purpose of the pilot study (N = 475) was to create and test experimental manipulations for the two experimental studies. Experiment 1 (N = 659; highly religious emerging adult sample) was a 3x2 experimental design with six conditions; 1) gratitude-only to humans, 2) indebtedness-only to humans, 3) gratitude and indebtedness to humans, 4) gratitude-only to God, 5) indebtedness-only to God, and 6) gratitude and indebtedness to God. Experiment 2 (N = 1081; nationally representative sample) was a replication of Experiment 1. Multiple and multivariate regression analyses and MANOVAs provided evidence that conditions 3 & 6 and state responses of gratitude and transcendent indebtedness led to more prosocial giving, more positive affect, and increased relationship proximity in response to receiving a benefit from either God or humans. Gratitude with low levels of indebtedness or indebtedness with low levels of gratitude were associated with worse outcomes. Two types of indebtedness were found, transcendent indebtedness (agentic) and transactional indebtedness (obligated). More positive outcomes were associated with transcendent indebtedness. Further, positive affect and relationship proximity was moderated by secure attachment to God when God was the benefactor.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Nelson, Jenae Marie, "Returning Thanks to God and Others: The Relational, Prosocial, and Emotional Consequences of Transcendent Indebtedness" (2022). Theses and Dissertations. 9494.
gratitude, indebtedness, virtue, religiosity, spirituality, prosociality, attachment