Being in a giving state of mind: A study of giving in undergraduate pre-service teachers

Thomas Nielsen, Robert Fitzgerald, Jennifer Ma

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Poster


Wellbeing research suggests that linking education to positive emotions is a fruitful area of exploration. For example, Diener & Patterson (2011) and Netzer & Ben-Sharar (2011) suggest that connecting positive psychology course content to student’s personal lives enhances student learning, engagement, and sense of meaning, providing opportunities for students to actively practice and implement transformative wellbeing initiatives in their own lives. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the effects of various positive psychology interventions on student wellbeing within a University setting. The overall study consisted of 516 (40% males and 60% females) undergraduate Education students, primarily aged 18 to 25 years (81%). Students were randomly allocated to five conditions: (a) to perform a random act of giving everyday (n = 174), (b) to keep a daily gratitude journal (n = 271), (c) to practice Seligman’s (2006) ABCDE method of intervention and change (n = 3), (d) to practice Nielsen’s (2011) Soothe-Think-Ownership-Play (STOP) cognitive-emotional exercise (n = 68), and (e) to study the promoting positive learning environments (PPLE) course content (control condition). Wellbeing (WB) was measured at three points in the 14-week semester using a modified version of the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index (AUWI). A multivariate analysis was performed using the derived change scores from the AUWI and WB measures as dependent variables. Group and gender served as fixed factors, and time undertaking the activity and level of enjoyment were used as covariates. A significant multivariate effect was found for the giving condition, with the most significant effect being observed for overt giving in males. Our research supports a growing body of literature showing that forms of altruism performed regularly and positive actions and emotions are beneficial to wellbeing and ‘meaningful happiness’ (Seligman 2011).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event28th International Congress of Applied Psychology: From Crisis to Sustainable Wellbeing - Palais des Congrès, Paris, France
Duration: 8 Jul 201413 Jul 2014


Conference28th International Congress of Applied Psychology
Abbreviated titleICAP


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