ScienceDaily (Mar. 29, 2012) — As parents strive to instill in their kids the importance of saying “thank you,” it turns out expressing gratitude is not just good manners, A new USC Marshall School of Business study shows that gratitude is an essential tool to navigating the workplace, especially when that workplace is overseen by a belligerent and insecure boss.
In an article recently published inThe Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Yeri Cho, a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate at USC Marshall, and Nathanael Fast, assistant professor of management and organization at Marshall, examine “the interactive effects of power, competency threats and gratitude expression on the tendency to denigrate others.”
Cho — whose research focus is on power, status and negotiations — said she began the study as way to understand “what makes some bosses mistreat their subordinates, and what can the subordinates do about it?”
The launching point was a recent article showing that gratitude expression boosts a sense of social worth. “Maybe if powerful people received gratitude expression from their subordinates and felt socially valued, they would reduce their aggression toward others,” Cho said.
To test this hypothesis, Cho and Fast conducted two experiments. Based on those experiments, they concluded: “Power holders whose competence has been threatened are more likely than others to denigrate … and receiving gratitude expression has self-affirming effects for insecure power holders.”