Ethics stem from concern about the rights and welfare of others, and require the capacity to be aware of the potential for moral violations. Here, we posit that mindfulness meditation, with its ability to enhance awareness of and attention to internal and external stimuli, influences moral reasoning and decision-making, and thereby contributes to ethical behavior. In line with this, investigations into the relationship between mindfulness and ethics have successfully demonstrated an association between trait levels of mindfulness and ethical decision making, as well as mindfulness training dependent improvements in moral reasoning. However, the cognitive and neural mechanisms through which meditation practice influences ethical behaviors are still unknown. Lack of a mechanistic explanation hampers the recognition of mindfulness training as a means to address pressing societal issues, and hinders mindfulness training from becoming a reliable method to foster ethical conduct. In this project, we aim to address this issue and investigate the neural mechanisms underlying mindfulness-training dependent changes in moral decision-making. By delineating the mechanisms through which meditation fosters ethical behavior, this project will identify meditation’s effects beyond personal well-being, and more importantly establish contemplative practice as a means to advance ethical behaviors.

Gunes Sevinc, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School

Grantee

Gunes Sevinc is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital & Harvard Medical School. Her current research interests include the relationship between mindfulness meditation … MORE

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