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一封感谢信带来的幸福感

更新时间:2018-7-26 20:50:13 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

You Should Actually Send That Thank You Note You’ve Been Meaning to Write
一封感谢信带来的幸福感

Dear reader,

亲爱的读者,

We want to let you know that we are grateful that you are taking the time to click on this headline. Because without you reading the story, what’s the point?

我们想让你知道,我们非常感激你能花时间点开这篇文章的标题。因为如果没有你的阅读,又有什么意义呢?

We are now going to use your precious time to share a surprising new finding: People like getting thank you notes.

我们现在将占用你宝贵的时间来分享一个意想不到的新发现:人们喜欢收到表达感谢的便条。

O.K., it’s not that surprising. But what did surprise two psychologists as they attempted to get to bottom of why so few people actually send thank yous is that many people totally “miscalibrate” the effect of an appreciative email. They underestimate the positive feelings it will bring.

好吧,这不是那么令人意外。但是当两位心理学家想要弄清楚为什么事实上很少有人会寄感谢信时,让他们感到惊讶的是,很多人完全错误地估计了一封感谢邮件的效果。他们低估了它所能带来的积极感受。

“They think it’s not going to be that big a deal,” said Amit Kumar, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies well-being.

“他们觉得这不是个大事儿,”阿米特·库马尔(Amit Kumar)说。他是德克萨斯大学奥斯汀分校一位研究幸福感的教授。

They also overestimate how insincere the note may appear and how uncomfortable it will make the recipient feel, their study found.

他们的研究发现,人们还高估了便条所可能呈显出的不真诚,以及它可能给收信人带来的不适感。

But after receiving thank-you notes and filling out questionnaires about how it felt to get them, many said they were “ecstatic,” scoring the happiness rating at 4 of 5. The senders typically guessed they’d evoke a 3.

但是在收到表达感谢的便条,并填写了有关收信感受的调查问卷后,很多人说他们“欣喜若狂”,并将幸福指数打为4分(满分5分)。寄信人通常猜测他们会打3分。

To be clear — the notes in question were not your typical “thanks for the Amazon gift card.” Rather, the 100 or so participants in each of the four experiments were asked to write a short “gratitude letter” to a person who had affected them in some way. Sample letters included missives of appreciation to fellow students and friends who offered guidance through the college admissions process, job searches and tough times. In lab experiments, Dr. Kumar observed that it took most subjects less than five minutes to write the letters.

需要明确的是,这里涉及的并非通常那种“谢谢你的亚马逊礼品卡”之类的便条。被分配到四组实验中的每组约100名参与者,实际上被要求写一封简短的“感恩信”,给曾经以某种方式影响过他们的人。样本信中有向在大学录取、求职以及人生的艰难时光里给过自己指导的同窗及好友的感谢信。在室内试验中,库马尔发现大多数受试者用来写这些感谢信的时间不到五分钟。

The study, published last month in the journal Psychological Science, is an effort to fill a hole in the growing field of gratitude research. Numerous studies had documented a range of benefits to individuals who express gratitude, so then the question researchers turned to was — what’s holding people back?

这项研究上个月发表在《心理科学》期刊上,旨在弥补感恩研究这一新兴研究领域的空白。大量研究已经证明表达感激对个体的各种好处,那么研究者们致力的问题就是——是什么在阻止人们表达感激?

Along with underestimating the value of sending a note to another person, many seemed to be concerned with how much their writing would be scrutinized.

除了低估给别人寄便条的价值,很多人似乎还很在意他们的写作会受到怎样的审视。

As it turned out, most recipients didn’t care how the notes were phrased, they cared about warmth, Dr. Kumar and his co-author Nicholas Epley, a professor at the University of Chicago, found. Participants were also judged to be more competent at writing than they expected.

结果表明,大多数收信人并不在意便条上的内容是如何措辞的,库马尔和他的合著者、芝加哥大学教授尼古拉斯·艾普利(Nicholas Epley)发现,他们在意的是温情。受试者的写作水平得到的评判,也好于他们的预期。

This finding was “a gem” that is “worthy of future research” said Sara Algoe, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who also researches gratitude, in an email.

这项发现是一个值得后续研究的“珍宝”,北卡罗莱纳大学教堂山分校的教授莎拉·阿尔戈(Sara Algoe)在一封邮件中写道,她研究的也是感恩。

“I like that their work reinforces the value of just saying something,” she wrote.

“说出来总是有价值的,他们的研究支持了这个观点,这是我喜欢的地方,”她写道。

Researchers also encouraged the writers of the thank-you messages to mention that a study had spurred their letters, something that doesn’t usually happen in real life. How often do we get to tell someone, “a scientist asked me to do this” before making ourselves vulnerable? The study found that many subjects were concerned that recipients would feel awkward upon receiving the compliment-filled letters. (Recipients rarely did.) Wouldn’t those concerns intensify without a good excuse for sending it?

研究者们还鼓励这些感谢信的作者们在信中提及,是一项研究激励了他们写下这些信,这是现实生活中通常不会发生的事。我们什么时候会在袒露自己之前,跟人说是“一个科学家让我这样做的”呢?研究表明,很多受试者很在意收信人会在收到充满赞扬的信时感到尴尬。(收信人很少这样。)那些担心是否会在缺乏一个恰当的寄信理由时加剧?

Perhaps, said Dr. Kumar. But that should not undermine what he sees as the broader finding: People tend to undervalue the positive effect they can have on others for a tiny investment of time.

也许吧,库马尔说。但那不应该削弱他认为更具有广泛意义的一个发现:人们往往低估了自己花费少量的一点时间所能给别人带来的积极影响。

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