To Erect Temples to Virtue: Effects of State Mindfulness on Other-Focused Ethical Behaviors

Abstract

While prior research suggests a link between mindfulness and ethical decision-making, most of the evidence for this link is correlational and refers to self-focused ethical behaviors. The paucity of experimental evidence, coupled with a lack of clarity on what mechanisms underlie the effect, limits our understanding of whether and how mindfulness might foster other-focused ethical behaviors. In this research, we hypothesize that state mindfulness might promote other-focused ethical behaviors by increasing resourcefulness, which we define as a perceived state of resource abundance. Across four experimental studies, we report causal evidence for the effects of state mindfulness instantiated through brief mindful meditation exercises on other-focused ethical behaviors, including choice of fair-trade products (Study 1A), charitable giving (Study 1B), and volunteering (Study 1C and Study 2). Resourcefulness mediates the effects of mindfulness on other-focused ethical behaviors (Study 2). Our work answers the call for more experimental research on mindfulness and its important implications for ethical decision-making.

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Orazi, D.C., Chen, J. & Chan, E.Y. To Erect Temples to Virtue: Effects of State Mindfulness on Other-Focused Ethical Behaviors. J Bus Ethics 169, 785–798 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04296-4

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Ethical decision-making
  • Other-focused ethical behaviors
  • Resourcefulness
  • Fair-trade consumption
  • Charitable giving
  • Volunteering