Gratitude is increasingly included in the battery of precepts that explain relational exchanges. However, the literature on commercial exchanges has failed to differentiate between the similar, but distinct, measures of gratitude and indebtedness or recognize their potential for differential impacts on relationship quality and other measures of performance. This study: (1) demonstrates the need to conceptually distinguish between the constructs of gratitude and indebtedness; and (2) empirically assesses whether these constructs promote diametrically opposite influences on relational and performance constructs. Furthermore, this study exposes the different conclusions regarding the influence of gratitude drawn by social science researchers and researchers that study commercial exchange in various fields of business. Our empirical study uses strong inference positioning to reveal the theoretical uncertainty surrounding indebtedness and gratitude, and our findings reveal a series of normative implications for future theory development and managerial strategy.
Baker, B and Edwards, C (2018), "Differentiating Indebtedness and Gratitude in the commercial exchange context", Journal of Empirical Generalisations in Marketing Science, Vol. 18, No. 2