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FORMATION IN ADOLESCENTS OF THE SENSE OF GRATITUDE FOR THEIR PARENTS

FORMATION IN ADOLESCENTS OF THE SENSE  OF GRATITUDE FOR THEIR PARENTS
Natalia Daniliuc, ph.d. of psychology, associate professor

Nicolae Testemitanu State University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Moldova

Conference participant

The article presents theresults of an experimental study upon the formation in adolescents of the sense of gratitude for their parents; it emphasizes the psychological conditions of gratitude; marks the importance of empathy inclusion in the process of formation in adolescents of the sense of gratitude.

Keywords: gratitude, emotion, attitude, emotional experiences derived empathic feelings, parents and teenagers.

 

The actuality of the investigation on the process of formation in the adolescents of feelings for their parents is incontestable. Psychological and pedagogical researchers attest the need to sensitize the parent-child relationships. J. Cosnier [1] considers that affection, respect, and gratitude of children for their parents are the decisive factors in safeguarding humanity and the prosperity of society. It is precisely these feelings of great social value that form the basis of harmonious relationships between parents and children. Nowadays, with no noticeable changes in the formation in children of gratitude, responsibility, care for the parents, it is easy to create a break between the generations. Regretfully, however, in the psychology of affectivity, the problem of forming such feelings is little approached. According to G. М. Breslav [6], the gratitude feeling, in particular, has a much lower degree of research compared to other complex emotional phenomena. The reason for this is the lack of the scientific research tradition of the feeling in question. Up to now, there exists no generally accepted description and operationalization of the scientific construct "gratitude".  Consequently, this phenomenon has not yet become a subject of constant attention for science. The complexity of the gratitude phenomenon, the lack of adequate fixation methods in experimental conditions of the affective feelings that enter into the architectonics of this feeling left for a long time out of concern the issue of its research and formation. The feeling of gratitude only remained defined in the works of the XVIIth century philosophers R. Descartes [2] and B. Spinoza [5].

The approach of gratitude by the named philosophers has served as a starting point in the experimental research upon the process of formation in adolescents of the sense of gratitude for their parents.

According to B. Spinoza [5, p. 209] "gratefulness or gratitude is the desire or the effort we give out of love to do good to the one who, being animated towards us by the same love, has done us a good". It is clear from the definition that gratitude as a feeling appears in a subject for the people who paid attention or a service. Appreciating the last ones positively, the gratitude of the subject is expressed by his tendency to reward good with good. Therefore, gratitude, like other feelings, includes in its structure two kinds of experiences, mentioned by V. K. Vilunas [7]: positive evaluative affective experiences, which constitute the attitude of the subject towards the benefactor, and motivating affective experiences, which impel him to the response action. Treated as such, the emergence and triggering of the sense of gratitude implies the presence of the following psychological conditions: the presence of the benefactor and the objective reality of the beneficence, on one hand, and on the other hand, the perception, awareness and positive evaluation by the subject of the beneficence made. Taking into account the operationalization of gratitude mentioned above, we considered in the study performed that parents present themselves to the teenagers as benefactors, and the essence of the beneficence lies in the parents' satisfaction of their children’s necessities.

The complexity of the gratitude feeling requires the use for its diagnostication of direct and indirect research paths. That is why we considered that adolescents' assessment of the satisfaction of their needs by their parents is manifested in the form of positive evaluative affective experiences (or positive attitude), and this is based on the psychological link between needs and attitudes. As a form of manifestation of motivating affective experiences, of the desires to revanch for the received good, the adolescent empathy with the parents was taken into consideration (their tendency to share the feelings of their parents). The empathic experiences of the subject contain the tendency to relieve the suffering of another person by doing him/her a good. These arguments have led to the selection and application in the adolescent research of the sense of gratitude for parents, of the following psychodiagnostic methods: "Attitude colour test" (for the research of adolescent attitudes towards parents); the test of " Parents’ behavior and adolescents' attitude towards them" (to investigate how adolescents perceive and acknowledge the good received from their parents in the form of a positive attitude); the "Express examining of empathy" test (diagnosing the level of the motivating affective experiences, the tendency to share with parents); the test of self-assessment of feelings "7 words" (to determine the place of gratitude in the top of the feelings of teens for their parents and to establish the relationship between the evaluative affective experiences and the motivating affective ones).

Applying the tests indicated in the observation experiment allowed us to make a number of findings. The attitude of adolescents towards each parent differs not only in the colour of the affective feelings, but also by their intensity. These variables depend on the subject of the adolescent attitudes - mother or father. The obtained indices show that the attitude of adolescents towards both parents is positive and, according to the intensity of the experiences, the adolescent attitude towards the mother is evaluated as markedly positive and towards the father - only as positive. This indicates that adolescents’ needs are met by the mother at a higher level than by the father.

The top of the words-feelings according to the frequency of their inclusion in the lists by adolescents for the purpose of self-assessment of the affective experiences towards parents allowed us to highlight an important fact and precisely that, in the first three positions of the list of feelings, the positive evaluative affective experiences (love, respect, sympathy, admiration) have been included by a much larger number of teenagers than the motivating derived affective experiences (gratitude, care, compassion, duty, devotion).

Synthesizing the findings of the experiment, we noted that: most adolescents have a positive emotional affinity both for their mother and father; in the list of the teenagers' feelings for their parents emotional feelings of an evaluative-passive character prevail over the motivating emotional feelings; in many adolescents in the list of feelings towards parents, gratitude and other motivating affective states occupy the last positions (6-7) in this list; the feeling of gratitude was not indicated by 63 (31,9%) adolescents in case of the self-evaluation of the feelings towards their mothers and by 82 (41,7%) subjects in case of the self-evaluation of the feelings towards their fathers.

At the next stage of the research we aimed to implement the psycho-pedagogical program of formation in adolescents of the sense of gratitude for parents and the verification of its effectiveness. During the elaboration of the Program we took into account the fact that one of the psychological mechanisms for the formation of feelings is the affective contamination and the empathy of the affective experiences of other persons (A.N.Leontjev  [8], S.L. Rubinstein [9],  V.K. Vilunas [7]). The empathy for other people's feelings objectifies and forms new feelings that the subject had not previously had. The affective experience that has arisen in the subject through empathy is not based on a certain need. But, being lived, having a certain content, it is necessarily objectified.

Psychologists, such as V. Pavelcu [3], P. М. Jacobson mentioned that feelings are formed by way of stimulating affective experiences, their repetition and crystallization. Through affective experiences, man becomes aware of feelings. Being lived and conscious, affective experiences turn into feelings. In order to generate affective experiences with a certain desired content and the planned formation of feelings, it is necessary to use as oriented actions the observation of the people’s actions, of the relations between them; the analysis and evaluation of their own actions and experiences; the perception of the works of art, in which the experiences of the people are reproduced. Works of art evoke affective experiences under the psychological mechanism of affective contamination and empathy (Th. Ribot, B. M. Teplov). Generalizing, we mention that the methodological actions of the formative experiment have emerged from the following theoretical postulates: 1) the feelings of the subject are formed as a result of the specific generalization of the situational experiences and the awareness of one’s own emotional experience; 2) the formation of complex affective experiences in the subject takes place through the empathy of the feelings of others and their objectification; 3) works of art are an effective means of generating affective experiences and formation of feelings on their basis [4].

The developed psycho-pedagogical program included 20 activities, two on each of the following 10 subjects: "Oh, mother, sweet mother ..."; "Father, I do not know why they did not put you in songs"; "I miss you, parents"; "Mother and child"; "Childhood memories"; "You are always waiting for us"; "The lost son"; "The sunset of a heart"; "Pray for parents"; "Love your parents as long as they live". For each activity, according to its generic, certain artistic works (songs, poems, prose, paintings, and photographs) were selected.

For the formative experiment we selected 24 adolescents of 17 years old from the experimental sample and formed two homogeneous groups of 12 persons. The selection of subjects for both groups was done according to the following criteria: adolescents have positive evaluative affective experiences of the same intensity for both parents (they assess in the same way the satisfaction of their needs by their parents); the subjects assessed at the same level the positive interest of both parents (they are aware and appreciate at the same level the good received from their parents in the form of positive interest); adolescents have medium-level empathetic feelings towards the parents (they tend to share with their parents feelings of the same level of intensity); adolescents have not included or included in the last positions in the list the feeling of gratitude for their parents. Both the experimental and control groups consisted of 12 people, 6 boys and 6 girls. The activities lasted for about 40-50 minutes each.

At the last stage of the research, as part of the control experiment, the subjects in the experimental and control groups performed the tests "Express examination of empathy", "7 words" and wrote an essay with the subject "My parents: what I feel towards them".

The figure below shows the results of the calculations regarding the level of the empathic affective experiences with the parents established in adolescents in the experimental and control groups at testing and retesting. The graphically presented data show that in adolescents from the both groups, at testing the mean values of the empathic affective experiences with the parents are equal (10,3 points). At retesting, this index increased both in the subjects of the experimental group (12,3 points) and in the control group (11,0 points). However, by checking the statistical significance (by Mann-Whitney U criterion) of the leap that occurred in the retesting control group (from 10,3 points to 11,0 points), it was found to be insignificant (U=47).

Fig. 1. The level of empathic derived affective experiences with parents

in adolescents in the experimental and control groups at testing and retesting

 

The statistical control of the data obtained by adolescents in both groups (12,3 points; 11,0 points) at the retesting of empathic experiences showed that these results differ significantly (U=34,5; p=0,05). In the experimental group the level of empathic affective experiences in adolescents increased from 10,3 points at testing to 12,3 points at retesting and this increase is also statistically significant (U=23; p=0,01). Therefore, adolescents who have sustained the influences of the implemented program had a considerable increase in the scores obtained regarding the intensity of the empathic affective experiences with their parents.

The next step in the analysis of the factual material from the control experiment consisted in comparing the results obtained after the application of the self-evaluation testing of feelings "7 words" at retesting by adolescents in the control and experimental groups. For this we highlighted, first of all, what were the words used by adolescents in both groups on the first three positions in the control experiment list. Secondly, we have clarified which affective experiences persisted in the first three positions of the list of feelings for parents in the compared groups at retesting: the passive-evaluative affective or motivating affective ones. Analyzing the data in this aspect, we calculated the frequency of word inclusion in the lists, assigning to each word a certain rank according to this frequency, then we applied to the verification of the correlation between the ranks, applying the rs-Spearman criterion. The comparisons made about the adolescents' experiences of both groups towards their mothers are summarized in Table 1.

Table 1. The hierarchy of affective experiences with the mother

Hierarchy of affective experiences according to the frequency of their inclusion on the first 3 positions of the list of feelings towards the mother

Experience content

Control group

Experimental group

d2

rs

p

Frequency of inclusion

Rank

Frequency of inclusion

Rank

Love

Joy

Admiration

Trust

Sympathy

Respect

Devotion

Duty

Pride

Compassion

Remorse

Gratitude

Care

11

6

5

4

4

3

2

1

1

1

1

0

0

1

2

3

4.5

4.5

6

7

9.5

9.5

9.5

9.5

12.5

12.5

9

0

1

0

0

7

1

4

0

8

1

2

3

1

11.5

8

11.5

11.5

3

8

4

11.5

2

8

6

5

0

90.25

25

49

49

9

1

30.25

4

56.25

2.25

42.25

56.25

-0.14

-

SUM d2

414.5

 

We can see from the table that in the control group, following adolescent retesting, we have established the following hierarchy of the affective experiences with the mother: love (1), joy (2), admiration (3); sympathy and trust (4,5); respect (6), devotion (7); pride, duty, compassion and remorse (9,5). The affective experiences called care and gratitude in the subjects of this group did not have the first options in the list of feelings and placed themselves in the last two positions (12,5). In the experimental group at retesting, the words-experiences towards the mother were arranged as follows: love (1), compassion (2), respect (3), duty (4), care (5), gratitude (6); admiration, devotion and remorse (8). The words-experiences of joy, trust, sympathy and pride remained on the list, but occupied the last positions (11,5). The statistical verification demonstrated the lack of significant correlation between the ranks of affective experiences enrolled in the first three positions at retesting by the adolescents of the compared groups (r= -0.14). This demonstrates that in adolescents of the experimental group, unlike subjects in the control group, after the formative sessions there were substantial changes in the hierarchy of feelings towards the mother.

In Table 2, the hierarchy of the affective experiences is reflected by the frequency of their inclusion at retesting on the first three positions of the list of feelings towards the father by the adolescents of the control and experimental groups.

 

Table 2. The hierarchy of affective experiences with the father

Hierarchy of affective experiences according to the frequency of their inclusion on the first 3 positions of the list of feelings towards the father

Experience content

Control group

Experimental group

d2

rs

p

Frequency of inclusion

Rank

Frequency of inclusion

Rank

Love

Respect

Pride

Joy

Trust

Admiration

Sympathy

Duty

Devotion

Remorse

Gratitude

Care

Compassion

9

9

4

3

3

3

2

1

1

1

0

0

0

1.5

1.5

3

5

5

5

7

9

9

9

12

12

12

8

10

1

0

3

0

0

4

4

0

5

2

0

2

1

8

11

6

11

11

4.5

4.5

11

3

7

11

0.25

0.25

16

36

1

36

16

20.25

20.25

4

81

25

1

0.3

 

-

 

SUM d2

257

 

After the application of the psychopedagogical Program developed in adolescents in the experimental group, significant differences appeared in the list of feelings towards the father. The feelings of these subjects towards their fathers were distributed in the following sequence: respect (1), love (2), gratitude (3); devotion and duty (4,5); trust (6), care (7), pride (8). The experiences of joy, admiration, sympathy, compassion and remorse (11) were not the first choice for any teenager. The feelings of the adolescents in the control group towards their fathers at retesting were placed as follows: love and respect (1,5); pride (3); admiration, trust and joy (5); sympathy (7); duty, devotion and remorse (9). The motivating affective experiences gratitude, compassion and care (12) were not noted on the first positions in the lists. The statistical examination of the data in the table showed that the link is missing between the ranks of the adolescent feelings towards the father in both groups at retesting (r=0.3). Consequently, we find that in the experimental group, unlike the control group, there were also significant changes in the feelings towards the father.

Thus, the results of the control experiment have given us the possibility to summarize that the program of formation by empathy of the gratitude feeling contributed to: the development in adolescents of the empathy with the parents; formation in them of the feeling of gratitude and other motivating affective experiences of important social value towards the parents; verbalization and awareness in adolescents of the experiences they faced.

 

References:

  • 1.  Cosnier J. Introducere în psihologia emoţiilor şi a sentimentelor. Iaşi: Polirom, 2007, 196 p.
  • 2.  Descartes R. Tratat despre sentimente. Bucureşti: IRI, 1999. 148 p.
  • 3.  Pavelcu V. Din viața sentimentelor. București: Enciclopedică română, 1969. 103 p.
  • 4.  Ribot Th. Logica sentimentelor. Bucureşti: Univers Enciclopedic Gold, 2010. 176 p.
  • 5.  Spinoza B. Etica. Bucureşti: Ştiinţifică, 1957. 359 p.
  • 6. Бреслав Г. М. Психология эмоций. Москва: Смысл; Издательский центр „Академия”, 2004. 544 с.
  • 7. Вилюнас В. К. Психология эмоциональных явлений. Москва: Изд-во МГУ, 1976. 143 с.
  • 8. Леонтьев А. Н. Потребности, мотивы и эмоции. In: Психология эмоции. Тексты. Москва: Изд-во Московского Университета, 1984. с. 162- 171.
  • 9. Рубинштейн С. Л. Основы общей психологии. Том-2. Москва: Педагогика, 1989. 324 с.
Comments: 5

Fornea-Stecailov Iuliana

Уважаемая Наталья Данилюк! Спасибо за интересную и актуальную статью! Желаю Вам научных и творческих успехов! С уважением, Юлиана Форня-Стекайлов!

Voloshina Mary Victorovna

В условиях современной социо-культурной ситуации, характеризующейся парадигмальным сдигом от общества "модерна" к "постмодерну" особенно актуально звучит проблематика утраты традиционных ценностных ориентаций, таких как "благодарность". Современная молодежь с энтузиазмом восприняла новые либеральные ценности, зачастую отказавшись от традиционных, что в свою очередь грозит нарушением культурной преемственности. Вводя в действие научного конструкта концепт «благодарность», автор делает его предметом своего анализа, как положительного оценочного аффективного переживания.

Agzamov Rifkat Raisovich

Представленная автором статьи проблематика имеет практико-ориентированный характер. На наш взгляд. особый интерес имеет разработанная и апробированная автором программа психолого-педагогического сопровождения, обеспечивающая эффективность процесса развития эмпатии в подростковом возрасте. Полученные в ходе эмпирического исследования носят репрезентативный характер. Хотелось, чтобы автор описал основные элементы своей программы и привёл примеры упражнений, которые он предложил в рамках разработанной им программы.

Kubanov Ruslan

Формирование эмпатии у представителей подрастающего поколения, как научная проблема, носит интегративный характер. С интересом ознакомился с результатами исследования, на наш взгляд, доклад достоин высокой оценки.

Dyuldina Zhanna

Уважаемая Наталья, спасибо за актуальный доклад!Желаю Вам дальнейших успехов в работе!
Comments: 5

Fornea-Stecailov Iuliana

Уважаемая Наталья Данилюк! Спасибо за интересную и актуальную статью! Желаю Вам научных и творческих успехов! С уважением, Юлиана Форня-Стекайлов!

Voloshina Mary Victorovna

В условиях современной социо-культурной ситуации, характеризующейся парадигмальным сдигом от общества "модерна" к "постмодерну" особенно актуально звучит проблематика утраты традиционных ценностных ориентаций, таких как "благодарность". Современная молодежь с энтузиазмом восприняла новые либеральные ценности, зачастую отказавшись от традиционных, что в свою очередь грозит нарушением культурной преемственности. Вводя в действие научного конструкта концепт «благодарность», автор делает его предметом своего анализа, как положительного оценочного аффективного переживания.

Agzamov Rifkat Raisovich

Представленная автором статьи проблематика имеет практико-ориентированный характер. На наш взгляд. особый интерес имеет разработанная и апробированная автором программа психолого-педагогического сопровождения, обеспечивающая эффективность процесса развития эмпатии в подростковом возрасте. Полученные в ходе эмпирического исследования носят репрезентативный характер. Хотелось, чтобы автор описал основные элементы своей программы и привёл примеры упражнений, которые он предложил в рамках разработанной им программы.

Kubanov Ruslan

Формирование эмпатии у представителей подрастающего поколения, как научная проблема, носит интегративный характер. С интересом ознакомился с результатами исследования, на наш взгляд, доклад достоин высокой оценки.

Dyuldina Zhanna

Уважаемая Наталья, спасибо за актуальный доклад!Желаю Вам дальнейших успехов в работе!
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