Improve Mindfulness by Interacting with Trustworthy People

Improve Mindfulness by Interacting with Trustworthy People


By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.


“When deciding in whom to place trust, trust the guilt-prone.” – Emma Levine


It is well established that engaging in contemplative practices such as meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi produces increased mindfulness. But the level of mindfulness varies among people who do not engage in contemplative practice; some being high in mindfulness, while others are very low. So, there must be other factors that contribute to the level of mindfulness. To some extent inheritance (the genes) affects an individual’s mindfulness. But what transpires in the environment during an individual’s life may also be important.


Being able to trust other people may be important in developing mindfulness. In today’s Research News article “Does interacting with trustworthy people enhance mindfulness? An experience sampling study of mindfulness in everyday situations.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at:, Kudesia and Reina examine the relationships of interacting with trustworthy people with mindfulness. They recruited undergraduate students and had them complete measures of mindful attention and mindful metacognition (noticing their thoughts and feelings about experiences).


For 8 days the participants engaged in experience sampling where they received “prompts for experience sampling three times a day (9:30 AM, 2:30 PM, 7:30 PM) over their phone.” They rated their mindfulness and indicated if over the time since the last prompt whether they interacted with someone they deemed a leader or a teammate and if so to describe the interaction, rate the trustworthiness of the leader or teammate, and rate their satisfaction with the interaction. “Common interactions with leaders entailed managers, executives, and recruiters in the workplace, coaches of sports teams, and professors, academic advisors, and residence hall advisors in the university. Common interactions with teammates entailed fellow members of workplace teams, volunteer organizations, sports teams, and class project teams.”


They found that the students cooperated for the most part, responding to 75% of the prompts. They separately analyzed responses on what they called a particularized pathway where the particular interactions reported to the prompts were associated with the mindfulness at that same time. There were no significant relationships between trustworthiness and mindfulness for this pathway for either leaders or teammates. They also analyzed responses on what they called a generalized pathway where the average trustworthiness over all interactions were associated with the average overall mindfulness. This produced significant positive relationships between trustworthiness and mindful attention and mindful metacognition for both interactions with leaders and with teammates.


The results indicate that overall, in general, when mindfulness is high so is the trustworthiness of both leaders and teammates. These are correlative relationships so it cannot be determined causation. Being mindful of experiences may make one feel that the other person is more trustworthy. That is being cognizant of what’s transpiring in the present moment may focus attention on the other person making them seem more trustworthy. Conversely, being with a trustworthy individual may relax the individual so they become more focused on the present moment (mindful). Finding someone else untrustworthy may help to shift thinking to the future consequences of that untrustworthiness or to ruminating about past occurrences that elicited the feelings of untrustworthiness. This would reduce mindfulness.


So, improve mindfulness by interacting with trustworthy people.


“He who does not trust enough will not be trusted.” — Lao Tzu


CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies


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


Study Summary


Kudesia, R. S., & Reina, C. S. (2019). Does interacting with trustworthy people enhance mindfulness? An experience sampling study of mindfulness in everyday situations. PloS one, 14(4), e0215810. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0215810



Mindfulness is known to increase after meditation interventions. But might features of our everyday situations outside of meditation not also influence our mindfulness from moment-to-moment? Drawing from psychological research on interpersonal trust, we suggest that interacting with trustworthy people could influence the expression of mindfulness. And, extending this research on trust, we further suggest that the influence of trustworthy social interactions on mindfulness could proceed through two pathways: a particularized pathway (where specific interactions that are especially high (or low) in trustworthiness have an immediate influence on mindfulness) or a generalized pathway (where the typical level of trustworthiness a person perceives across all their interactions exerts a more stable influence on their mindfulness). To explore these two pathways, study participants (N = 201) repeatedly reported their current levels of mindfulness and their prior interactions with trustworthy leaders and teammates during their everyday situations using an experience sampling protocol (n¯ = 3,605 reports). Results from mixed-effects models provide little support for the particularized pathway: specific interactions with trustworthy leaders and teammates had little immediate association with mindfulness. The generalized pathway, however, was strongly associated with mindfulness—and remained incrementally predictive beyond relevant individual differences and features of situations. In sum, people who typically interact with more trustworthy partners may become more mindful.