Does gratitude increase voice amongst students?

Authors: Cownie, F., Haft, J., Vu, V., Sonata, N. and Chaiveeradech, M.

Conference: Media Education Summit

Dates: 2-3 April 2019


Does gratitude increase voice amongst students?

Higher Education is predicated upon reciprocal exchange; the giving and taking of ideas, engagement and feedback. Gratitude, as the emotional core of reciprocity, is therefore a relevant and potentially powerful idea to consider Higher Education (HE). Indeed, there is evidence of increasing interest in the study of gratitude within the context of HE (e.g. Howells, Stafford, Guijt and Breadmore 2017; Fazal-e-Hasan, Lings, Mortimer and Neale 2017). As a powerful mediating variable within relational exchanges, gratitude has the potential to drive important relational outcomes. This study examines whether gratitude drives voice amongst students. It uses Cownie and Nikolaev (2018)’s conceptualization of feelings and expressions of gratitude, where feelings of gratitude are defined as positive emotional responses accompanied by an intention to demonstrate appreciation to the perceived giver of valued benefits; expressions of gratitude are enactments of feelings of gratitude. The study develops a conceptual framework which is informed by two key ideas: that students’ feelings and expressions of gratitude related to HE are informed by their gratitude attitudes and behaviours outside HE; and that feelings and expressions of gratitude may have an influence on how students speak about HE. The framework draws from Morgan, Gulliford and Kristjansson’s (2016) multi-component gratitude measure to inform generalized gratitude attitudes and behaviours. Three forms of voice are measured, positive word-of-mouth, negative word-of-mouth and silent endurance. These constructs are drawn from the work of Beatty, Reynolds, Noble and Harrison (2012), and allow a nuanced understanding of the relationship between gratitude and voice to be studied.

The study uses structural equation modelling to examine the explanatory power of the conceptual framework amongst a sample of students drawn from a UK HEI. It is the first study to evidence the power of feelings of gratitude as a driver of positive voice within the context of UK Higher Education.

Word count: 296 Keywords: voice, gratitude, word of mouth, higher education, students

Source: Manual