Krystian Pluciak

Psychometryczna ocena wdzięczności wobec organizacji

Psychometryczna ocena wdzięczności wobec organizacji


Purpose: Gratitude is an interdisciplinary concept frequently explored in positive psychology, which
recognizes gratitude as one of the seven transcendent character forces that promote well-being and
life satisfaction. The purpose of the conducted research was to develop the concept of gratitude toward
the organization and prepare a tool to study this phenomenon.
Methods: The study was cross-sectional. Participants were 802 employees from various organizations.
Results: The Gratitude Toward the Organization Scale has a good internal consistency (Cronbach’s
α was 0.91). Factor analysis confirmed the two-factor structure of this tool. The dimensions of gratitude
toward the organization are distinguished as: (1) gratitude as a commitment to reciprocity and
(2) gratitude as a moral norm. The construct validity of this measure was confirmed. Gratitude toward
the organization correlated positively with job satisfaction, affective commitment to the organization,
organizational justice, and perceived organizational and supervisor support, while being negatively
correlated with intent to leave the organization.
Conclusions: The obtained results confirm very good psychometric properties of the Gratitude Toward
the Organization Scale as a valid and reliable measure for studying the gratitude of employees,
which can be successfully used by researchers in Poland.
Keywords: gratitude toward the organization, measure, reliability, social exchange, reciprocity norm.

Autor: Marcin Wnuk


Gratitude is a significant social phenomenon from the viewpoint of interpersonal
relations. According to Oxford English Dictionary, gratitude comes from the Latin
word gratia, meaning “grace, graciousness, gratefulness,” and gratia and is defined as
“the quality or condition of being thankful; the appreciation of an inclination to return
kindness.” In this context, gratitude is seen as a specific attitude toward another person
that constitutes a response to a received good, which implies that the received
good needs to be noticed, it activates specific positive emotions and internal arousal,
and a motivation to reciprocate caused by the feeling of being endowed and wanting
to requite.

In psychology, gratitude is treated as an emotion (Maslow, 1968; Smith, 1976; Lazarus,
McCullough et al., 2001), a moral attitude, a character strength (Park, Peterson and
Seligman, 2004), a habit, a personality trait, or a state and mechanism of coping with
stress (McCullough, 2003).

Within the field of positive psychology, gratitude as a character strength, being the
most elementary and positive manifestation of human functioning (Park, Peterson
and Seligman, 2004) – along with hope – creates enthusiasm, the appreciation of beauty
and perfection, humor, spirituality, and forgiveness, a virtue associated with a transcendence
that manifests itself in the ability to see beyond everyday concerns (Seligman,

According to McCullough et al. (2001), gratitude is a moral emotion that plays three
key functions: of a moral barometer, moral motivator, and moral reward. Gratitude
serves as a moral barometer after receiving help; it is the stronger the more intentional
(and not accidental) is the perceived effort of the granter, and the greater is the value
of the favor and costs on the part of the granter. Gratitude as a moral motivator encourages
the receiver to reciprocate the received good. Finally, as a moral reward, it increases
the probability of helping the receiver more in the future thanks to gratitude expressed
by the person which, at the same time, positively influences the granter’s motivation
to provide more help.

Gratitude can be looked into from the perspective of a moral norm (see Buksik, 2002)
that constitutes a specific kind of generalized obligation shaped on the basis of individual
situations and experiences in a person’s life, thanks to which the individual
builds a generalized belief about the need to be grateful, which makes it easier for the
person to notice situations in her/his life for which s/he should be grateful.

On the basis of the concept put forward by Maslow, who treats gratitude as a moral
emotion (Maslow, 1968), we may state that the moral norm of gratitude becomes internalized
when the person begins to see her/his own existence as a gift, something exceptional,
unique, and inalienable. Then, experiencing admiration, respect, and worship,
the person feels as if s/he does not deserve it, which triggers in the individual the experience
of gratitude both toward God, fate, nature and toward another person, the past,
the world; therefore, toward all this that participated in achieving by the person the
present desired state. It is something that manifests itself not only in elements characteristic
of religious experiences, such as praising, worshiping, or admiring, but also
in an internal readiness to do something good for the surrounding world as an act of
reciprocating the received gift (Maslow, 1968).

The moral norm of gratitude, as any other moral norm as delineated by Kępiński (1987),
in its constitutional layer can be rooted in the person’s psychological structure via
nature as a provider of a natural moral order that – thanks to conscience – enables the
differentiation between good and evil. The other two planes that form moral norms
are: moral rules that become internalized in the period of early childhood and everyday
experiences that can either strengthen or modify the effect of norms on the person’s
functioning. According to the above, nature as the main source of the norm of gratitude
can be identified by non-religious individuals – who define themselves as spiritual
– with a force majeure (a superior power), whereas by religious people it can be identified
with God.

In many religious systems, gratitude is treated as one of the most crucial and desired
virtues (Emmons and Crumpler, 2000). According to the results of studies conducted
by Emmons and Kneezel (2005), indicators of both public and private manifestations
of religiousness were positively correlated with a disposition to be grateful and with
the feeling of gratitude. Other studies show that gratitude as a trait is positively correlated
with internally motivated religiousness and negatively correlated with religiousness
motivated externally (Watkins et al., 2003). The results of studies conducted
by Krause and Hayward (2015) enabled me to describe a mechanism of shaping
gratitude toward God on the basis of engagement in religious practices. According
to the obtained results, more frequent participation in services strengthens religious
engagement, on the basis of which takes shape the virtue of humility. In turn,
this virtue enables people to experience greater empathy toward other people, which
is followed by a deeper sense of religious meaning of life, leading in consequence
to greater gratitude toward God. Religious individuals can perceive gains as gifts
from God, who is to be the initial cause of all good (Watkins et al., 2003). Gratitude
toward God can become generalized over other elements of nature, both animate and inanimate. It can be expressed both toward someone and something – i.e., a person,
nature, the universe, or an animal (Solomon, 1977; Teigen, 1997) – but also for something;
for instance, for living conditions, for what one has received, experienced, or
learned, for spiritual resources, for what has been given or has been forgiven, for one’s
internal traits, future positive experiences, welfare, or blessings (Friedman, 1989). Gratitude
reflects both an attitude toward the giver and the gift (Harned, 1997). Expressed
by an employee toward an organization in which the person works (Wnuk, 2017a),
gratitude can pertain to gaining there, e.g., new professional competencies, making
new acquaintances in the workplace, fair treatment, integrity and openness of the
employer, atmosphere in the workplace, opportunities associated with professional
development, promotion.

Gratitude plays an important role for employee attitude as social support (Hu and
Kaplan, 2014), altruism (Dik et al., 2014), prosocial organizational behaviors (Michie,
2009; Grant and Gino, 2010), organizational citizenship behaviors (McCullough et al.,
2001; Spence et al., 2013), along with efficiency, productivity, and job performance
(Grant and Wrześniewski, 2010).

For some authors, gratitude is a significant organizational well-being and health indicator
(Di Fabio, Palazzeschi and Bucci, 2017), which can be measured both on an
individual and collective level (Fehr et al., 2017).

According to Di Fabio et al. (2017) recommendations, the aim of this study was
to create a measure of gratitude in organizational contexts based on authorship conception
of gratitude toward the organization on the individual level in contrast to
multilevel constructs of episodic gratitude, persistent gratitude, and collective gratitude
as defined by Fehr et al. (2017) as well as collective level emphasized by Müceldili
et al. (2015). Research regarding employee gratitude is a very important goal in Human
Resources Management practice for improving employee well-being (Watkins et al.,
2003; Emmons and McCullough, 2003), organizational well-being (Di Fabio, Palazzeschi
and Bucci, 2017), promoting organizational citizenship behaviors (McCullough
et al., 2001; Spence et al., 2013), building trust among employees, improving productivity
and job performance (Grant and Wrześniewski, 2010), developing management
and leadership based on gratitude (Michie, 2009), and implementing organizational
culture based on gratitude.

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