Effects of Free Response and Prompted Gratitude Journaling on Middle School Students' Subjective Well-Being

Date of Award


Degree Name

Specialist in Education (Ed.S.)


Department of Counselor Education and Human Services


Advisor: Sawyer Hunley


Positive psychology researchers study gratitude journaling frequently as an intervention that aims to increase feelings of gratitude and overall subjective well-being (SWB). One question arising from previous research is what possible variables increase the effectiveness of gratitude journaling amongst middle school students. The present study explored the effect of prompted daily gratitude journaling compared to daily free write gratitude journaling on seventh grade students' levels of gratitude and SWB.The study involved 22 participants, half of whom wrote in a blank gratitude journal daily and the other half of whom responded to a gratitude prompt of, "I am grateful to ______ because ______." The researcher measured outcomes using pre- and post-test data from questionnaires designed to measure one's positive and negative affect, overall life satisfaction, and inclination to express gratitude.Based on pre-, post-, and follow up test data, students in the prompt condition did not experience higher levels of gratitude, positive affect, or subjective well-being, nor lower levels of negative affect, when compared to students in the free response condition. Implications for future practice include pairing a teaching component with the journaling to increase effectiveness and including a more specific prompt to elicit gratitude towards others.


Counseling Education, Education, Psychology, School Counseling, gratitude, gratitude journaling, positive psychology, subjective well-being, middle school, journaling

Rights Statement

Copyright © 2019, author