No Evidence That Gratitude Enhances Neural Performance Monitoring or Conflict-Driven Control

Blair Saunders, Frank F H He, Michael Inzlicht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
171 Downloads (Pure)


It has recently been suggested that gratitude can benefit self-regulation by reducing impulsivity during economic decision making. We tested if comparable benefits of gratitude are observed for neural performance monitoring and conflict-driven self-control. In a pre-post design, 61 participants were randomly assigned to either a gratitude or happiness condition, and then performed a pre-induction flanker task. Subsequently, participants recalled an autobiographical event where they had felt grateful or happy, followed by a post-induction flanker task. Despite closely following existing protocols, participants in the gratitude condition did not report elevated gratefulness compared to the happy group. In regard to self-control, we found no association between gratitude--operationalized by experimental condition or as a continuous predictor--and any control metric, including flanker interference, post-error adjustments, or neural monitoring (the error-related negativity, ERN). Thus, while gratitude might increase economic patience, such benefits may not generalize to conflict-driven control processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0143312
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Brain
  • Conflict (Psychology)
  • Drive
  • Electroencephalography
  • Emotions
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Young Adult
  • Journal Article
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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