The power of gratitude in sports: A qualitative exploration of Olympic athletes’ gratitude experiences

Shih-Chi Hsu *, Che-Chun Kuo **, Ying-Lien Ni *** and Lung Hung Chen ****

(*) Department of Social Psychology, Shih Hsin University, Taiwan
(**) Department of Physical Education, Tunghai University, Taiwan
(***) Department of Physical Education, Health, & Recreation, National Chiayi University, Taiwan
(****) Department of Recreation and Leisure Industry Management, National Taiwan Sport University, Taiwan & Department of Medical Research, China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University, Taiwan

Citation

Hsu, S., Kuo, C., Ni, Y., Hung Chen, L. (2020). The power of gratitude in sports: A qualitative exploration of Olympic athletes’ gratitude experiences. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 51(1), 47-68. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2020.51.047

Abstract

Based on the broaden-and-build theory, this study used qualitative inquiry methods to explore the integral system of gratitude experiences of elite athletes, including the input, process and output stages. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine Olympic athletes. A thematic analysis was utilized to interpret the results. Our study revealed an integral system of gratitude experiences including the following stages: (a) an input stage characterized by the benefactor; (b) a process stage starting at the turning point characterized by the broaden and build steps; and (c) an output stage characterized by a dynamic upward spiral system consisting of long-term, expansion, hand-changing, and positive rumination powers. Our study extends previous research by identifying the three stages of the gratitude experience using a dynamic system that has powerful lasting effects and contributes to gratitude-relevant research in the field of sports psychology.

Keywords: Broaden-and-build theory, Gratitude experience, Positive psychology, Thematic analysis


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