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, lower levels of prejudice, and higher levels of awareness of privilege (“wokeness”). Here, we want to test and implement this model by offering college students an 8-week mindfulness program of proven effectiveness. During the intervention, participants will be beeped on their smartphones 4 times per day and thus provide daily measures of attention control, self-awareness (mind wandering, state mindfulness), self-regulation (rumination, self-compassion), self-transcendence, psychological outcomes (stress, mood, anxiety, depression, wellbeing), and prosocial/ethical attitudes (feelings of compassion). The high-density nature of the data will allow us to carefully examine how each of these variables changes over the course of training, and to examine causal relationships. Before and after the intervention, we will measure trait versions of these same variables, as well as an extensive set of measures of prosocial and ethical sensitivities, to see not only if but also how the intervention influences these attitudes.

Paul Verhaeghen, PhD

Georgia Institute of Technology


Shelley Aikman

University of North Georgia