Research has begun to show that the benefits of meditation practice can extend beyond the individual to influence the well-being of others. An important next step in the field is to look at how this happens. We will therefore examine how participation in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course impacts the amount of negative emotions, specifically, of a non-participating relationship partner. We will do this using both first- and third-person methods. We will administer daily and weekly surveys to both members of a relationship to investigate how changes in an MBSR participant’s emotions, (interpersonal) mindfulness, and relationship perceptions may be associated with similar changes in the non-meditating partner. As an objective measure of social relationship, we will further investigate changes in the correlation of brain activity within couples, while they are collaborating on a well-controlled yet realistic task. Results will be compared to an active-control condition in which one member of a relationship participates in a course on happiness and fulfillment. This will enable us to isolate the specific impact of meditation practice relative to more general improvements in well-being. Combined, this research program aims to stimulate innovative interventions which can improve an individual’s well-being through their relational connections.

This PEACE grant is designated as the 2020 Samuel B. Hanser Visionary Grant.

Christopher May, PhD

University of Groningen (Netherlands)


Marieke van Vugt, PhD

University of Groningen (Netherlands)

Grantee, Reviewer