What Predicts Positive Life Events that Influence the Course of Depression? A Longitudinal Examination of Gratitude and Meaning in Life

David J. Disabato, Todd B. Kashdan, Jerome L. Short, Aaron Jarden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)


Decades of research have shown that positive life events contribute to the remission and recovery of depression; however, it is unclear how positive life events are generated. In this study, we sought to understand if personality strengths could predict positive life events that aid in the alleviation of depression. We tested a longitudinal mediation model where gratitude and meaning in life lead to increased positive life events and, in turn, decreased depression. The sample consisted of 797 adult participants from 43 different countries who completed online surveys at five timepoints. Higher levels of gratitude and meaning in life each predicted decreases in depression over 3 and 6 months time. Increases in positive life events mediated the effects of these personality strengths on depression over 3 months; however, not over 6 months. Goal pursuit and positive emotions are theorized to be the driving forces behind gratitude and meaning in life’s effects on positive life events. We used the hedonic treadmill to interpret the short-term impact of positive life events on depression. Our findings suggest the potential for gratitude and meaning in life interventions to facilitate depression remission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-458
Number of pages15
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Depression
  • Gratitude
  • Meaning in life
  • Positive life events

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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