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Date of Award



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Document Type

Thesis: EWU Only

First Advisor

Philip Watkins

Second Advisor

Amani El-Alayli

Third Advisor

Georgia Bazemore


Individuals report higher levels of happiness and relationship satisfaction when involved in a communal relationship than when involved in an exchange relationship. Gratitude has been shown to be a better predictor of relationship satisfaction than indebtedness, which may be based in part on whether one tends to develop communal or exchange relationships with others. Two studies investigated whether communally oriented individuals experience more gratitude while Exchange oriented individuals experience more indebtedness. It was further investigated whether receiving a thoughtful benefit would produce more feelings of gratitude than receiving an unintentional benefit, or receiving a benefit where the giver’s intentions are unknown, and whether communal or exchange orientation would moderate such feelings. In both studies, participants reported their tendency toward communal and exchange relationships and trait levels of gratitude and indebtedness. Participants read a vignette where they were provided a benefit and rated their anticipated emotional reactions to the benefit. It was hypothesized that those with communal orientations would report more positive emotions while those with exchange orientations would report more negative emotions. An interaction was hypothesized such that Exchangers would report less indebtedness when the giver was required to provide the benefit and Communals would report higher gratitude when the benefit was thoughtful. General results indicate Communals reported more positive emotions while exchangers reported more negative emotions after receiving the imagined benefit. Thus, relationship orientation appears to predict different types of affect after receiving a benefit, and this is moderated by the intentions of the imagined benefit provider.