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Appreciation: Individual Differences in Finding Value and Meaning as a Unique Predictor of Subjective Well-Being


This article is based on the first author's doctoral dissertation in clinical psychology at Rutgers University.
Correspondence concerning this paper may be sent to Mitchel G. Adler at 2122 Regis Drive, Davis, CA 95616, e-mail:, or to N. S. Fagley, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University, 152 Frelinghuysen Rd., Piscataway, NJ 08854-8085, e-mail:


Adler (2002; Adler & Fagley, 2001) argued that being appreciative facilitates and enhances feelings of well-being and life satisfaction, as well as feelings of connection to what we have, to what we experience, and to life itself. In addition, expressing appreciation to others is believed to build social bonds. Although appreciation is viewed as a disposition, it is also viewed as something people can learn over time, making it an especially valuable construct to measure. Appreciating something (e.g. an event, a person, a behavior, an object) involves noticing and acknowledging its value and meaning and feeling a positive emotional connection to it. We defined eight aspects of appreciation and developed scales to measure them: a focus on what one has (“Have” Focus), Awe, Ritual, Present Moment, Self/Social Comparison, Gratitude, Loss/Adversity, Interpersonal. Scores on the subscales may be totaled to yield a score representing one's overall degree of appreciation (or level of appreciativeness) (coefficient alpha=.94). We also developed an 18-item short form (coefficient alpha=.91) that correlates .95 with scores on the long form. The scales correlated in predicted ways with measures of life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect. More importantly, appreciation was significantly related to life satisfaction and positive affect, even after the effects of optimism, spirituality, and emotional self-awareness had been statistically controlled.