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Improving Workplace Culture Through Gratitude

One of the courses within my master's program required my team and I to design an experiment from start to finish. The objective was to formulate policy recommendations within our chosen area of focus.

While reading up literature on behaviour science, our major, we found multiple studies on 



Gratitude increases and can be enhanced by proactive behaviour, which in turn creates effective relationships

Benefit triggered gratitude such as in the cases of crisis assistance is more effective

Hierarchies in the workplace improve compliance and increase proactive behaviors

We wanted our results to have policy implications so we decided to apply what we had found to improve workplace settings, a place where proactive behaviour would enhance both worker productivity and well-being

To cultivate a more collaborative and supportive workplace environment, the question arose: "How can we enhance the reciprocity of help & proactive behaviour among colleagues?"

Our Solution: Gratitude


Our Medium: Crisis Assistance and Senior Management


My Role: Survey and Experimental Design, Statistical Data Analysis

Timeline: 2 months

Tools: Literature Review,  Mturk, Ordered Logistic Regression, Mann Whitney U Test, Qualtrics

Experimental Design

In our study, we investigated workplace reciprocity by simulating a crisis scenario in a survey where participants faced an urgent and challenging task of completing 25 questions from the Predictive Index exam within 1 minute, typically a 50-question assessment conducted over 12 minutes during interviews. Following the crisis, participants either received help or did not, and if assistance was provided, it came from a junior/supervisor or a coworker.


Using a 2x2 factorial design, we explored the impact of two independent variables: the outcome of a crisis scenario (received vs. didn't receive help) and hierarchical relationship with the assisting party (supervisor vs. junior). Our main goal was to assess whether receiving help in a crisis, especially from a supervisor, influenced subsequent acts of kindness.


The study's results aim to provide insights into workplace dynamics, offering implications for fostering a positive and cooperative work environment and informing potential policy and practice adjustments.

Take a Closer Look at the Experimental Design

Main Results


There is not enough evidence to suggest that employees feel compelled to help their co-workers in return for the aid they received.


There is a sense of duty towards supervisors within the workplace, regardless of past assistance by the supervisors. Obligation to reciprocate help to superiors is independent of past assistance.


Even though employees feel obligated to reciprocate help to superiors regardless of past assistance, prior assistance does impact quality of help provided to supervisors.

Recommendation: Given the weight that supervisors have in influencing employee attitude, organizations should consider investing more into senior management training and encouraging seniors to help during crisis situations. 

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