One of the most supportive habits on Lift is Be Grateful for Something or Someone. It has one of the highest prop (like a high-five or favorite on Twitter) rates on Lift: each check-in gets 1.55 props on average. Check-ins to other habits related to gratitude like Write Three Positive Things About Today and Gratitude Journal also have a similarly high chance of getting props.

Is there something about gratitude that inspires people to give out props? We looked into the science of gratitude to find out.

Experiencing gratitude motivates you to do good deeds for others, even strangers.

It turns out that gratitude is a different emotion than reciprocity. Barlett and DeStano found that people who experienced gratitude were significantly more likely to help the person who helped them as well as strangers. This differs from the reciprocity which drives you to give back to your benefactors (but not strangers).

Results from Barlett and DeStano’s 2006 study Gratitude and Prosocial Behavior

In fact, feeling grateful compels you to perform more good deeds overall:

“Compared with their less grateful counterparts, grateful
people…appear to be more prosocially oriented…they are
more empathic, forgiving, helpful, and supportive than are their
less grateful counterparts.” (Mccullough, Emmons, and Tsang 2002)

Researchers Nowak and Roch suggest that paying it forward, the act of doing a good deed for someone who isn’t your benefactor after being helped yourself, might be an evolutionary advancement of gratitude that maximizes and extends the benefits of individual acts of altruism to society as a whole:

“Nowak and Roch came to the surprising conclusion that if this ‘‘pay it forward’’sort of gratitude evolves within a population that is already adapted for direct reciprocity, natural selection will reduce the benefit–cost ratio required for altruism to stabilize within the population, thereby
making altruism more efficient.” (McCullough, Kimeldorf, and Cohen 2008)

So how does being grateful lead people to give out more props on Lift?

You usually experience gratitude as you’re checking into Be Grateful for Something or Someone. You’ll think about a person who helped you as you check-in or even write down your thanks in a check-in note. At that point, you’re primed to reciprocate your good fortune to anyone who needs help. Giving a prop is the easiest, most immediate way to do that.

How to start the habit:

Right now: Are you grateful for someone or something? Think about them for a second. If it’s a person, send them a quick text or email thanks.

Then: Add the Be Grateful for Something or Someone habit on Lift. Check-in, then give out props!