Both Mindfulness and Compassion meditation have been shown to lead to increased prosocial thoughts and behaviors. The historical traditions from which these meditation types stem suggest that these effects should be caused by changes in habitual modes of thinking as well as increases in certain types of wisdom or insight, in particular the recognition that people do not have an inherent, unchanging nature. Using an experimental design in which novice meditators engage in eight weeks of either mindfulness, compassion, or sham meditation, we propose to assess the extent to which the link between meditation practice and prosocial outcomes is mediated by these variables. First, we will assess whether increases in prosociality are related to a decrease in the tendency to make dispositional attributions for other people’s behaviors. Second, we will assess the extent to which compassion meditation’s effect on prosociality is mediated by increased accessibility of prosocial thoughts.

John Edwards

Oregon State University