Charles Darwin may be best known for his theory of survival of the fittest — the most adaptable organisms are the most likely to survive and thrive. Less well known but perhaps just as important is his view on human relationships. “A man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth,” he once said. UNC-Chapel Hill psychologist Sara Algoe, who studies gratitude and its effect on our relationships, couldn’t agree more.
“Gratitude may actually alert us to people in our environment who are looking out for our best interests,” she points out. “And that’s really central to survival, to the human species. We need to be able to find people who have our backs.”
But how do we learn gratitude skills? That’s what Carolina clinical psychologist Andrea Hussong hopes to uncover. She has spent the past three years focused on Raising Grateful Children, a project of the Center for Developmental Science, an inter-institutional organization hosted at Carolina that Hussong directs. Initiated by a 2012 push for gratitude research by the John Templeton Foundation, the study strives to understand parents’ gratitude goals and then help them cultivate those values in their children.
Originally published December 21, 2017. Written by Alyssa LaFarro.