New research from UT Austin proves writing letters of gratitude is a beneficial experience people should commit to more often. The gesture improves well-being for not only letter writers, but recipients as well.
Published in “Psychological Science,” researchers Amit Kumar, assistant professor of marketing in the McCombs School of Business at UT, and Nicholas Epley of The University of Chicago asked participants to write a letter of gratitude to someone who had done something nice for them and then anticipate the recipient’s reaction. The study found that letter writers overestimated how awkward recipients would feel about the gesture and underestimated how surprised and positive recipients would feel.
“What we saw is that it only takes a couple of minutes to compose letters like these, thoughtful ones and sincere ones,” says Kumar. “It comes at little cost, but the benefits are larger than people expect.” Kumar says anxiety about what to say or fear of their gesture being misinterpreted causes many people to shy away from expressing genuine gratitude.