To Erect Temples to Virtue: Effects of State Mindfulness on Other-Focused Ethical Behaviors
While prior research suggests a link between mindfulness and ethical decision-making, most of the evidence for this link is correlational and refers to self-focused ethical behaviors. The paucity of experimental evidence, coupled with a lack of clarity on what mechanisms underlie the effect, limits our understanding of whether and how mindfulness might foster other-focused ethical behaviors. In this research, we hypothesize that state mindfulness might promote other-focused ethical behaviors by increasing resourcefulness, which we define as a perceived state of resource abundance. Across four experimental studies, we report causal evidence for the effects of state mindfulness instantiated through brief mindful meditation exercises on other-focused ethical behaviors, including choice of fair-trade products (Study 1A), charitable giving (Study 1B), and volunteering (Study 1C and Study 2). Resourcefulness mediates the effects of mindfulness on other-focused ethical behaviors (Study 2). Our work answers the call for more experimental research on mindfulness and its important implications for ethical decision-making.
KeywordsMindfulness Ethical decision-making Other-focused ethical behaviors Resourcefulness Fair-trade consumption Charitable giving Volunteering
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This project was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of the authors’ institution of affiliation with Ethics ID: 10016.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Lykins, E., Button, D., Krietemeyer, J., Sauer, S., …, & Williams, J. M. G. (2008). Construct validity of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in meditating and nonmeditating samples. Assessment, 15(3), 329–342.Google Scholar
- Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., …, & Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 230–241.Google Scholar
- Chugh, D., Bazerman, M., & Banaji, M. (2005). Bounded ethicality as a psychological barrier to recognizing conflicts of interest. In D. Moore, D. Cain, G. Loewenstein, & M. Bazerman (Eds.), Conflict of interest: Challenges and solutions in business, law, medicine, and public policy (pp. 74–95). New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Davies, W. (2015). The happiness industry: How the government and big business sold us well-being. Brooklyn: Verso Books.Google Scholar
- Frewen, P., Lundberg, E., MacKinley, J., & Wrath, A. (2011). Assessment of response to mindfulness meditation: Meditation breath attention scores in association with subjective measures of state and trait mindfulness and difficulty letting go of depressive cognition. Mindfulness, 2(4), 254–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gebauer, J. E., Nehrlich, A. D., Stahlberg, D., Sedikides, C., Hackenschmidt, A., Schick, D., …,& Mander, J. (2018). Mind-body practices and the self: Yoga and meditation do not quiet the ego but instead boost self-enhancement. Psychological Science, 29(8), 1299–1308.Google Scholar
- Jacob, J., Jovic, E., & Brinkerhoff, M. B. (2009). Personal and planetary well-being: Mindfulness meditation, pro-environmental behavior and personal quality of life in a survey from the social justice and ecological sustainability movement. Social Indicators Research, 93(2), 275–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156.Google Scholar
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (2005). Coming to our senses. New York: Hyperbion.Google Scholar
- Lau, M. A., Bishop, S. R., Segal, Z. V., Buis, T., Anderson, N. D., Carlson, L., …, & Devins, G. (2006). The Toronto Mindfulness Scale: Development and validation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(12), 1445–1467.Google Scholar
- Mindful. (2017). Free mindfulness apps worthy of your attention. Retrieved August 13, 2018 from https://www.mindful.org/free-mindfulness-apps-worthy-of-your-attention/.
- MISP. (2018). Mindfulness in schools. Retrieved August 13, 2018 from https://mindfulnessinschools.org/mindfulness-in-education/why-do-it/.
- Moore, S. (2014). Mindfulness is all about self-help. It does nothing to change an unjust world. The Guardian.Google Scholar
- NCCIH. (2012). The 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Retrieved May 23, 2019 from https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012.
- Purser, R., & Loy, D. (2013). Beyond mcmindfulness. Huffington Post, 1(7), 13.Google Scholar
- Rest, J. R. (1986). Moral development: Advances in research and theory. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Roux, C., Goldsmith, K., & Bonezzi, A. (2015). On the psychology of scarcity: When reminders of resource scarcity promote selfish (and generous) behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 42(4), 615–631.Google Scholar
- US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2014). Retrieved August 13, 2018 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK180104/.
- Van Dam, N. T., van Vugt, M. K., Vago, D. R., Schmalzl, L., Saron, C. D., Olendzki, A., …, Meyer, D. E. (2018). Mind the hype: A critical evaluation and prescriptive agenda for research on mindfulness and meditation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(1), 36–61.Google Scholar