Positive psychological interventions for children: A comparison of gratitude and best possible selves approaches

Rhea L. Owens, Meagan M. Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Many studies have found benefits of positive psychological interventions, such as gratitude promotion or thinking about best possible selves, for adolescents and adults. Almost no research, however, has been conducted on the efficacy of such interventions for children. The authors primary goal was to compare the outcomes of gratitude promotion and best possible selves interventions to a control condition, using a sample of elementary school-aged children (N = 62, ages 5-11 years). Children participated in once-weekly intervention sessions in which they were asked to draw a picture of something for which they were grateful that day (gratitude condition), a future version of themselves as happy and engaged (best possible selves condition), or something they had done that day (control condition). Analyses of the content of children's drawings indicated that children of this age were capable of articulating things for which they were grateful and positive future selves. Outcomes for the gratitude condition did not differ from the control condition; however, participants in the best possible selves condition showed greater gains in self-esteem than those in the gratitude or control conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-428
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Genetic Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • affect
  • gratitude
  • intervention
  • life satisfaction
  • positive psychology
  • possible selves
  • self-esteem


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