Saying “Thank you” may sometimes feel like a rote reaction, with no real emotion behind it. But those two words can carry a lot of power.

In this brief segment, Dr. Sara Algoe, Director of the Emotions and Social Interactions in Relationships Lab at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, examines the benefits of expressing gratitude out loud.

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SA: In these studies, everybody said thank you to their partner and here we’re just showing the thing that makes it really the most effective in making the other person feel good, and then we hypothesize that that will feedback into the relationship between both people. But in general, in life, no matter how you say it, saying thank you is better than not saying anything else. I’m not saying it has to be this perfectly amazing thank you every time, we’re just saying that’s the most effective way to say thank you but do say it, do acknowledge other people’s benefits, because some of our work really suggests that, you know, experiencing gratitude is one thing and it probably brings rewards. So, I might think about my benefactor in different ways when I experience gratitude—that’s what most of our data shows—but actually it’s expressing that adds this extra punch. … It’s the demonstration of gratitude, that social behavior—some kind of social behavior and, again, we’ve been working on expressions of gratitude—that probably solidifies it for the person that’s experiencing gratitude and certainly is the best way to give a signal to the benefactor that you’re actually grateful and you really appreciate the relationship and you have mutual care for the other person.