Aware, awake, woke: How a brief mindfulness intervention fosters prosocial/ethical attitudes

Buddhist and psychological models of awakening often propose that ethical sensitivities that encompass “peace, compassion, mindfulness and more justice” (Dalai Lama) can be fostered through mindfulness. The literature and our own previous work (Verhaeghen & Aikman, 2020) suggest that increased trait mindfulness is indeed associated with stronger endorsement of care and fairness/justice as moral values, …

Does the contemplative practice of loving-kindness propel prosocial acts via increased neural integration? A dynamic functional connectivity approach

“If people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.” With tendrils of hate, disrespect, and arrogant dismissiveness implicated in the senseless loss of too many lives to COVID-19 and police brutality, these touchstone words of Nelson Mandela become ever more pressing. Yet it remains unknown how best to teach love. As we …

Creation of a performance-based measure of compassion for use with children

Compassion is a complex skill involving both psychological (invisible) components and behavioral (visible) manifestations. In a new generation of Social-Emotional Learning programs that target compassion like Social, Emotional, and Ethical Learning (SEE LearningTM), these skills are hypothesized to both develop naturally and to be cultivated intentionally through enrichment efforts. The challenge is that few developmentally …

Making PEACE, one moment at a time: Mindfulness-Based Trauma Recovery for Refugees

We theorize that mindfulness and compassion training tailored to forcibly displaced refugees will have significant salutary pro-social effects. By means of a randomized (active) control design, we will test whether Mindfulness-Based Trauma Recovery for Refugees (MBTR-R) has restorative pro-social effects on traumatized Eritrean asylum seekers. Pro-social outcomes include (i) Trust, (ii) Compassion, (iii) Pro-social inter-personal …

Mindfulness as a novel intervention for improving romantic relationships

Romantic relationship quality declines over time for most couples. In addition, most first marriages end in divorce, and divorce rates have doubled during the past few decades among people over 35. Identifying interventions that improve compassionate love, empathy, and prosocial behavior between romantic partners is thus a critical goal. Our overarching aim is to experimentally …

SHAPE JOY: A program to nurture empathic happiness in children through contemplative parenting practices

Young children seem to be wired to notice and enjoy the happy experiences of others, but this tendency to experience “empathic happiness” seems to fade in later childhood when it is replaced by self-doubt, envy, and worry. This process of losing the natural inclination for empathic happiness is exacerbated for some children who become dysregulated …