Universität Erfurt

International Conference: The Shadow Side of Gratitude

The aim of the interdisciplinary conference “The Shadow Side of Gratitude” is to bring together experts from a range of fields to examine the potentially darker side of this everyday social emotion and valued human excellence.

In recent years there has been growing academic interest in the topic of gratitude, in psychology, philosophy and education, amongst other fields. Psychologists have examined the role of gratitude in promoting wellbeing and fostering good social relationships. Philosophers have pondered the conceptual contours of gratitude and have debated whether gratitude is always a virtue, while educationalists have looked at whether and how gratitude should be fostered in the young.

While many experiences of gratitude are life-affirming, the concept may not be as straightforwardly positive as many people have assumed. It is not uncommon for gratitude to be experienced with mixed emotions, such as embarrassment, shame and guilt. Beneficiaries may be suspicious of benefactors’ motivations in bestowing favours, gifts and compliments which could serve an ulterior purpose. It could be argued that gratitude to benefactors serves to keep marginalised groups in their place, and that cultivating gratitude makes a virtue out of an unwanted dependence on others.


The conference theme is associated with a proposed special issue of the Zeitschrift für Ethik und Moralphilosophie/ Journal for Ethics and Moral Philosophy. Contributions for the special issue will be decided after the event has taken place.

In addition to the conference there will be a public lecture (in German) and a network meeting on character education.



Hannah Drexler, letzte Änderung: 11.06.2019



Nutzermenü und Sprachwahl