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Showing Gratitude for Partner's Generosity Strengthens Bonds

Solid romantic relationships built on mutual appreciation, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- When you do something for your romantic partner, is it the thought that counts?

Yes, but a new study suggests something else matters: the return favor of gratitude.

"Feelings of gratitude and generosity are helpful in solidifying our relationships with people we care about, and benefit the one giving as well as the one on the receiving end," study author Sara Algoe, an assistant professor of research in the psychology department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said in a news release.

The researchers followed more than 65 couples in ongoing relationships and tracked their levels of satisfaction and connection on a day-to-day basis.

The study authors found that people were deeply affected by their partners' levels of gratitude.

"Gratitude triggers a cascade of responses within the person who feels it in that very moment, changing the way the person views the generous benefactor, as well as motivations toward the benefactor," Algoe said. "This is especially true when a person shows that they care about the partner's needs and preferences."

The study appears in the June issue of the journal Personal Relationships.

More information

For advice about improving relationships, visit Kansas State University.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Wiley-Blackwell, news release, May 24, 2010

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