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A little gratitude

Study shows value of thank-you notes

Hand writing letter on stationery
A study has found people tend to undervalue the positive effect they can have on others by writing them thank-you letters.

Although people like receiving thank-you notes, few folks send them because they underestimate the positive feelings the notes provide, new research shows.

The study found that after receiving thank-you notes and filling out questionnaires about the experience, many people scored a “happiness rating” of 4 on a 5-point scale.

The senders typically predicted recipients would report a 3.

“They think it’s not going to be that big a deal,” Amit Kumar, a University of Texas at Austin professor who conducted the study, told The New York Times last week.

Senders also expressed insecurity about writing notes because of how uncomfortable their writing might make the recipient feel. Many senders also seemed concerned with how much their writing would be scrutinized.

However, most recipients reported that they cared about the warmth of the message, not how the notes were phrased.

This finding was “a gem” that is “worthy of future research,” Sara Algoe, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told the Times.

The research was published recently in the journal Psychological Science.

The Postal Service encourages customers to write and send letters, including spearheading National Card and Letter Writing Month each April.

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