Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Psychology (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Marlene Sotelo-Dynega

Second Advisor

Mark Terjesen

Third Advisor

Lauren Moskowitz


Research in the field of positive psychology has focused on the beneficial effects of gratitude on overall wellbeing. Recent studies have demonstrated that anxiety and depressive disorders are increasingly common among youth in the United States. Further, both anxiety and depression have been linked to other comorbid mental health conditions, such as dysthymia, disruptive disorder, and substance abuse disorder. Moreover, anxiety and depression are associated with negative social and academic outcomes. Considering the prevalence of anxiety and depressive disorders among youth and the associated comorbidities, it is vital to direct efforts towards prevention and early intervention. The literature supports a positive relationship between gratitude and improved mental health status, as well as improvements in academic performance. Still, a void exists in terms of research on gratitude interventions among specific populations, including Modern Orthodox Jewish youth. The present study seeks to investigate the impact of a brief gratitude journaling intervention to assess changes in gratitude, mental health status, and academic performance among third grade students attending a private Modern Orthodox Jewish elementary school in Lawrence, New York. Study findings included no significant change in gratitude within either group. Math and reading scores improved in both the experimental and control group. There was no significant change in mental health status within either group. Limitations impacting the findings included the brevity of the intervention and young age of participants. The results point to a need for future studies to explore interventions that occur over a longer period of time, as well as alternative gratitude interventions that may be more impactful for younger children.

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Psychology Commons