Mindfulness Training, Implicit Bias, and Force Response Decision-Making
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The goal of this study was to assess the preliminary efficacy of a mindfulness-based training (mindfulness-based resilience training; MBRT) in improving weapon identification among law enforcement officers (LEOs).
Participants (N = 61) were randomly assigned to either MBRT or a no-intervention control (NIC) group. A self-report questionnaire assessing mindfulness and a computerized measure assessing implicit stereotype reliance were administered at baseline, post-training, and 3 months following intervention completion. We also collected information about meditation practice outside of the training for LEOs in the MBRT group.
Inferential analyses yielded improvements in mindfulness in the MBRT group compared to NIC. Analyses did not provide evidence for implicit stereotype reliance at baseline and therefore did not yield a significant impact of MBRT versus NIC on implicit stereotype reliance, ps > .05; however, participants across both conditions exerted more control when responding to Black male targets compared to White male targets, F(1,74) = 3.98, p = .05, 95% CI [− .05, − .01], d = .36.
Our results do not provide evidence for the impact of MBRT on weapon identification but do suggest that LEOs exerted more effort when responding to images of Black males compared to White males. We discuss recommendations for future clinical trials assessing implicit stereotype reliance, viz., that researchers utilize measures more sensitive to a wider range of LEO samples and with higher ecological validity, and we discuss potential reasons why our results do not align with past research.
KeywordsMindfulness Implicit bias Police
MH: designed and executed the study; performed data analyses; and wrote the methods, results, and discussion sections. MC: designed and executed the study, provided feedback on data analyses, and provided feedback on writing the manuscript. AS: wrote the introduction section and provided feedback on the rest of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.
Research reported in this publication was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R21AT008854. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
Matthew Hunsinger received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the reported study; Michael Christopher received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the reported study; Andi M. Schmidt has no funding to disclose.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The reported research was approved by the Interval Review Board at the home institution of all authors (Pacific University).
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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