A new approach to measuring moral virtues: The multi-component gratitude measure

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Empirical explorations of moral virtues have increased dramatically recently. This paper introduces a new method of assessing moral virtue using gratitude as an example; a virtue that continues to be a topic of great interest in psychology, philosophy and education. We argue, and demonstrate empirically, that to comprehensively examine a moral virtue, it is necessary to explore its cognitive, affective, attitudinal (including motivational), and behavioural aspects. We have created the 'Multi-Component Gratitude Measure' (MCGM) comprised of four components, each designed to assess a distinct dimension of the virtue of gratitude: (a) conceptions (or understandings) of gratitude; (b) grateful emotions; (c) attitudes towards gratitude; and (d) gratitude-related behaviours. In contrast to existing measures, the MCGM aims to comprehensively examine the major components that constitute this complex moral construct. In two studies we illustrate the value of assessing these four components of gratitude and how individuals can differ in the number and ‘type’ of components they exemplify. Importantly, we demonstrate how well-being increases linearly with the number of components a person possesses, as measured by three distinct measures of well-being. We discuss individual differences in gratitude experience and what this means for personal flourishing as well as future measurement of moral constructs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-189
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Early online date29 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Gratitude
  • Measurement
  • Virtue
  • Individual differences
  • personality
  • Well-Being


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