Aug 13, 2018

Do you ever feel like you’re annoying or making things awkward when you just want to be polite and grateful to someone—saying “thank you” in particular? If yes, you’re not alone. And you’re wrong.

Two psychologists found that this kind of thinking called “egocentric bias” leads to undervaluing the positive effects of expressing gratitude more often.

In their research published in the journal Psychological Science last month, they conducted experiments where participants wrote gratitude letters and then predicted how surprised, happy, and awkward recipients would feel. And boy, were they wrong.


When the recipients of letters reported how receiving thank you notes actually made them feel, it showed that senders “significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel.”

Senders thought they’d induce a 3 at the happiness rating on the questionnaires. However, recipients ticked a 4 or 5. Also, most recipients didn’t care about the writing that much—they cared about warmth, according to Kumar and his co-author Nicholas Epley, a professor at the University of Chicago.

“They think it’s not going to be that big a deal,” says researcher and psychologist Amit Kumar to New York Times. He’s a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and studies well-being.

So, go on. Stop being so self-conscious and send that long overdue thank you note.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Get more stories like this by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here.

Read more:

Buying time can make you happy

This is how dehydration is affecting your work

Food stress could be the reason behind your weight gain

Read more by Yazhmin Malajito:

Finally, Yale’s most popular happiness class is online for free

Why do we collect things?

Don’t kill your creativity, be idle for a while

TAGS: expressing gratitude happiness psychology research thank you letter well-being