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Robert Emmons


  • Ph.D., Personality Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • M.A., Personality Psychology, Minor: Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Southern Maine


In addition to his academic appointment, Robert Emmons is director of the Emmons Lab, a long-term research project designed to create and disseminate a large body of novel scientific data on the nature of gratitude, its causes, and its potential consequences for human health and well-being. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Society for Personality and Social Psychology, International Society for Quality of Life Studies (Fellow), International Network for the Study of Personal Meaning, International Positive Psychology Association and APA, Division 36 where he served as President from 2003 to 2004. Emmons is editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive PsychologyHe has also served as consulting editor for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of PersonalityIn addition, he has been an editorial consultant for the International Journal for the Psychology of Religion and a guest editor for the Journal of Personality special issue Levels and Domains in Personality (with D.P. McAdams). 

Research Focus

Professor Emmons' research is at the interface of personality psychology, the positive psychology, and the psychology of religion. His research focuses on the psychology of gratitude and thankfulness in both adults and youth, and how they are related to human flourishing. His interests also include the psychology and spirituality of grace as it relates to human flourishing.

Selected Publications

  • Emmons, R. A. (2013). Gratitude Works! A Twenty-One Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity (Jossey-Bass). 
  • Emmons, R. A. (2007). THANKS! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin. 
  • Emmons, R. A.,&  McCullough, M. E. (Eds.) (2004). The Psychology of Gratitude. New York: Oxford University Press. 
  • Emmons, R. A., & Hill, J. (2001). Words of Gratitude. Radnor, PA: Templeton Foundation Press. 
  • Emmons, R. A. (1999). The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns. New York: The Guilford Press.


Professor Emmons teaches in the areas of social-personality, personality and religion, health psychology, and gratitude and well-being. Most recently he has taught courses in Psychology of Religion and Health Psychology.


Professor Emmons has won several awards and grants during his career. In 2010 he received the William James Award, APA Division 36, and in 2008 he received the Henry A. Murray Award, APA Division 8. He has also been awarded numerous grants from the John Templeton Foundation, The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, National Institute for Disability Research and Rehabilitation and National Institute of Mental Health, among others.