Chicago university study shows thank-you notes spread joy

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Photo credit: John-Mark Smith at Pexels
Photo credit: John-Mark Smith at Pexels

If you want to spread happiness and improve your well-being, this new academic study proves sending a thank-you note is the way to go.

 

According to the new study out of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, recipients of thank-you notes are frequently far more appreciative than the sender anticipates.

 

The study, authored by Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley and published in Psychological Science, asked 107 students at the University of Chicago to write a letter of gratitude or thanks to a person who had ‘touched their life in a meaningful way.’ The students were given a questionnaire to complete immediately before sending the note, and the recipients were asked to fill in a questionnaire two days after receiving the letter.

 

The students and recipients were asked to rank several factors (on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being disappointed and 10 being highly elated) predicted by the sender and the actual response by the recipient. One of the interesting outcomes was the awkwardness the note writers expressed at having to convey their gratitude on paper. Conversely, those anxieties were proved wrong in every metric. The students’ hesitation about showing gratitude was unwarranted. All the recipients were happy to receive the notes and were genuinely touched by their contents. (See the graph below showing the results.)

 

The study concluded that senders’ perceived awkwardness about expressing gratitude in a handwritten note could prevent people from maximising their own - and others’ - well-being. So the lesson is: we all need to write more thank-you notes!

Photo credit: University of Chicago
Photo credit: University of Chicago
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