Mindfulness is Associated with a Reduced Tendency to Ostracize

Mindfulness is Associated with a Reduced Tendency to Ostracize

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“adults scoring higher on trait mindfulness reported ostracizing coworkers less [and] demonstrated greater inclusion of a fellow group member being ostracized by others in the group.“ – Eric Jones

 

Humans are social animals. This is a great asset for the species as the effort of the individual is amplified by cooperation. In primitive times, this cooperation was essential for survival. But in modern times it is also essential, not for survival but rather for making a living and for the happiness of the individual. This deep need for positive social interactions heightens the pain of social rejection and ostracism. “Ostracism, or being excluded and ignored, is a detrimental experience for the target of ostracism because it harms the target’s relational needs of belonging, self-esteem, meaningful existence, and control, along with worsening the target’s mood.”

 

Mindfulness has been found to increase prosocial behaviors such as altruism, compassion and empathy and reduce antisocial behaviors such as violence and aggression. So, it is likely that mindfulness may affect the individual’s tendency to reject and ostracize others.

 

In today’s Research News article “Who Is Less Likely to Ostracize? Higher Trait Mindfulness Predicts More Inclusionary Behavior.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277536/ ) Jones and colleagues studied the relationship of mindfulness to ostracism in 3 studies. For all studies they recruited healthy adult workers online.

 

In the first study they had them complete measures of mindfulness, perceived ostracism, perceived stress, and instigation of ostracism. They found that the higher the levels of mindfulness the lower the levels of perceived ostracism, perceived stress, and instigation of ostracism. So, mindful workers are more sensitive to ostracism in the workplace and less likely to be involved in ostracism.

 

In the second study they had the participants play a simulated ball tossing game, Cyberball, where they tossed a ball to 3 other participants who were simulated did not exist other than in the program. In one condition the ball was tossed to all participants equally and in the ostracism condition one simulated participant had the ball tossed to them initially but then never again from anyone except the real participant who could toss the ball to the ostracized participant if they chose. They found that the higher the level of participant mindfulness the greater the proportion of simulated ball tosses were directed to the simulated “ostracized” participant. Neither empathy, personal distress, nor the other motives were found to mediate the effects of mindfulness.

 

In the third study they again had the participants play Cyberball with an ostracized simulated participant. There were 2 conditions in that the participants were either instructed at the beginning to pay attention to the other players or did not receive the attention instruction. They found that the attention instruction increased the percentage of tosses directed to the simulated “ostracized” participant. In the attention instruction condition the effects of mindfulness disappeared.

 

The results suggest that high trait mindfulness is associated with less ostracizing of others in their work environments. The simulated ball tossing results suggested that mindfulness is also associated with lower ostracizing in artificial simulated conditions. But when an attention instruction is included the association with mindfulness goes away. This suggests that mindfulness results in a participant paying more attention to others around them and this produces a lowered tendency to ostracize others.

 

Ostracism is extremely harmful to individuals. So, methods to reduce ostracism are socially important. The results suggest that mindfulness may be an effective tool in countering ostracism by making individuals more attentive to others. It remains for future research to determine if training in mindfulness can reduce ostracism.

 

So, mindfulness is associated with a reduced tendency to ostracize.

 

dispositional mindfulness predicted greater empathic concern for, and more helping behavior toward, an ostracized stranger [and] also promoted prosocial responsiveness to an ostracized stranger.“ – Daniel Berry

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jones, E. E., Wirth, J. H., Ramsey, A. T., & Wynsma, R. L. (2019). Who Is Less Likely to Ostracize? Higher Trait Mindfulness Predicts More Inclusionary Behavior. Personality & social psychology bulletin, 45(1), 105–119. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218780698

 

Abstract

Despite the pain ostracism (being excluded and ignored) causes, researchers have minimally investigated factors related to reducing its occurrence. We investigated the association between higher trait mindfulness (the tendency to be attentive to the present moment) and lower engagement in ostracism. In Study 1, employed adults scoring higher on trait mindfulness reported ostracizing coworkers less. In Study 2, participants possessing higher levels of trait mindfulness demonstrated greater inclusion of a fellow group member being ostracized by others in the group. Results suggested that attention, rather than empathy, was the psychological process responsible for greater inclusion of an ostracized group member by mindful individuals. Study 3 supported this conclusion, because participants responded similarly to those high in trait mindfulness when they were instructed to pay attention and ensure all players were included equally. Overall, we found that people with higher levels of trait mindfulness are more attentive to targets of ostracism.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8277536/