I am grateful that I still live under one roof with my family : gratitude among South African university students

12 May 2021

During the transition from school to university, students are faced with many challenges to their well-being. This is especially true in resource constrained societies like South Africa. While there is extensive research linking well-being with gratitude, less is known qualitatively about what individuals are grateful for. A sample of 933 undergraduate students submitted gratitude lists, resulting in over 9,000 unique “gratitude items.” Thematic analysis revealed several prominent themes, such as gratitude for relationships, material resources, being at university, life and health, and, finally, religious gratitude. These themes are discussed in the context of the importance of family relationships in the lives of emerging adults, the core role played by the educational context, the importance of socioeconomic resources and the association between religion, gratitude, and well-being. Strengthening these resources and cultivating gratitude for these prominent targets of appreciation may support students in their developmental trajectory.