Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude


Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship


This RFP for Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowships has now closed. Many thanks to all of the talented applicants who submitted a proposal.

The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley, is pleased to announce our Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship program, part of the new three-year phase of our Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude (ESPG) initiative supported by the John Templeton Foundation.

Three fellowships, each for two years of postdoctoral support at published NIH salary levels, plus up to $10,000 in research costs per year, will be awarded to candidates working in tandem with a faculty member who received one of the original gratitude research grants through this initiative.

The Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship program builds on the research funded through the original three-year phase of this project, which included 14 faculty research grants and 15 dissertation research awards, funded nationwide from 2012 to 2014. To scale up and magnify the impact of the studies supported by the ESPG initiative, Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellows will work closely with one of the faculty gratitude researchers. With this expert mentorship, Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellows will have the extraordinary opportunity to hit the ground running with teams that have already generated cutting-edge data to inform and kickstart a very productive two years of research. Finally, Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellows will be offered world-class media and communications training from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley as our newest ambassadors of the ESPG initiative.

People interested in the GGSC Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship program are encouraged to familiarize themselves with recent scholarship on gratitude available on the Greater Good Science Center website.

Greater Good Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship Timeline

  • Letter of Intent (LOI) phase application window: LOI due by Monday, March 2nd*
  • Finalists announced: Friday, March 13th
  • Full proposal submission window: Monday, March 16th – Monday, April 27th*
  • Fellowship winners announced: Friday, May 15th
  • Funding period: September 1st, 2015 through August 31st, 2017
  • * All deadlines close at 11:59 pm Pacific Time on the dates specified.


    Gratitude is derived from the Latin gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness and has been conceptualized as an emotion, an attitude, a moral virtue, a habit, a personality trait, and coping response. Broadly defined, gratitude is an acknowledgment that a person has received something of value from another moral agent. Most existing theoretical treatments agree that gratitude results most often from a specific set of attributions: (1) when a benefit is evaluated positively; (2) when the benefit that one has encountered is not attributed to one’s own effort; and (3) when the benefit was rendered intentionally by the benefactor. There is consensus that gratitude can be regarded as a moral emotion, in that it leads to behavior intended to benefit others. The experience of gratitude results from acknowledging the key role sources of social support may play in promoting the well-being of others.

    As a trait, gratitude refers not only to the gratitude that arises following help from others but also to a habitual focusing on and appreciation of the positive aspects of life. Gratitude may be explicitly ‘other-directed’ or benefit triggered in the context of having received a valued gift from another, or it may be a more generalized orientation toward life that is independent of an exchange-based relationship. Benefit-triggered gratitude is elicited by a specific transfer of a benefit, whereas generalized gratitude includes being grateful for that which is valuable and meaningful to oneself.  As part of the Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude initiative, projects may address these multiple meanings of gratitude in terms of either interpersonal or transpersonal gratitude, religious or nonreligious gratitude, benefit-triggered or generalized gratitude. 

    Gratitude is foundational to well-being and mental health throughout the life span. In the past few years, there has been an accumulation of scientific evidence showing how gratitude contributes to psychological and social well-being. A growing body of research has documented the wide array of psychological, physical, and relational benefits associated with gratitude from childhood to old age.Yet, the scientific study of gratitude is still in its early stages. The overall aim of this initiative is to stimulate scientific research on gratitude in the social and biological sciences, with a goal of spurring investigations of this essential virtue across levels and domains of human functioning.

    Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship Eligibility

    The GGSC’s Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship program is open to researchers who will have filed their dissertation by August 31, 2015. Eligible candidates must commit to working with a faculty gratitude researcher affiliated with this initiative at their home institution in the United States.
    Applications are encouraged, but not limited to, scholars from the disciplines of psychology, medicine, public health, education, neuroscience, and evolutionary biology. Proposals may be either discipline-specific or inter-disciplinary and may come from scholars with expertise in gratitude research or those recently investing in gratitude research. Applicants may have their name on only one proposal for this competition.

    Strong potential for university teaching and research, and a productive track record of writing and publishing peer-reviewed journal articles are desirable qualifications.

    Application Instructions

    The application period for Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowships has now closed.
    The application procedure for the gratitude postdoctoral fellowships will occur in a sequence of 2 phases, a Letter of Intent (LOI) phase and a Full Proposal phase. LOI phase applications will be reviewed by faculty research mentors and a subset of applicants, finalists, will be invited to submit Full Proposals with their direct support. All applicants must complete the LOI phase to be considered for the Full Proposal phase.

    LOI phase
    Researchers interested in applying for the Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship should complete the application form below (now closed), which will include uploading the following 3 documents:

  • Letter of Intent
  • Graduate school transcripts (unofficial is OK)
  • Curriculum Vitae

  • Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship finalists will be announced by March 13th, and invited to submit full proposals between March 16th and April 27th.

    Full Proposal phase
    Full proposal parameters will be specified in an email notification to finalists, a subset of LOI phase applicants who are invited to submit Full Proposals, on March 13th. Invited Full Proposals must be submitted via the faculty mentor’s institution’s Office of Sponsored Research through the online submission form; full proposals will be due on Monday April 27th

    GGSC Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship awards will be announced by May 15 for a funding start date of September 1st, 2015. All projects must be completed by August 31stnd, 2017.

    Evaluation Criteria

    1. Significance: Does the research address or extend an important problem or question in or related to the faculty mentor’s research on gratitude? Does it build upon prior findings? How does it advance the science or practice of gratitude? What will be the impact of this project on future research on gratitude?

    2. Approach and methods: Is the design or analysis adequately developed and rigorous for the purpose of the study and commensurate with the research question(s) addressed? Does the project seek to identify causal mechanisms between gratitude and health outcomes or mechanisms that foster or impede the development of gratitude?

    3. Creativity: Does the project employ novel and innovative ideas or methods? Would it be considered leading-edge research?

    4. Potential influence: Will the results be publishable in scholarly journals? Will the results enhance public awareness of the importance of gratitude or increase knowledge about how it can be successfully practiced?

    5. Capacity for success: What are the qualifications of the applicant? Can she/he carry out the proposed work in a timely manner? Can he/she effectively communicate findings to both academic and nonacademic audiences?

    If you have any questions about the Gratitude Postdoctoral program or application process, please consult our Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship FAQ; if you don’t see your question there, please email it to gratitude@berkeley.edu.

    Letter of Intent phase applications are due by March 2, 2015

    Application Form

    To apply for a Gratitude Postdoctoral Fellowship, please fill out the form below (now closed). At the end, you will need to upload your letter of intent (LOI), CV, and graduate school transcript (please upload as word docs and/or pdfs). Your LOI should be a maximum of two pages, single-spaced, in 12 pt Times New Roman font. Your LOI should also:

  • briefly summarize your dissertation research and postdoctoral research experience (if any)
  • explain your interest in gratitude
  • explain why you’d like to partner with the faculty mentor you selected and discuss what you propose to bring to their ongoing work on gratitude
  • propose two to three specific ideas you’d like to investigate with the selected faculty mentor, either analyzing existing data or extending into new data collection
  • briefly list, in six-month increments, how you envision focusing your time over the two year funding period.


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