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Mindfulness Reduces Avaricious Monetary Attitudes and Enhances Ethical Consumer Beliefs: Mindfulness Training, Timing, and Practicing Matter

Abstract

Mindfulness—the awareness of the present moment and experiences in daily life—contributes to genuine intrinsic and social-oriented values and curbs materialistic and hedonistic values. In the context of materialism, money is power. Avaricious individuals take risks and are likely to engage in dishonesty. Very little research has investigated the effects of mindfulness in reducing the avaricious monetary attitudes and enhancing ethical consumer beliefs. In this study, we theorize that mindfulness improves consumer ethics directly and indirectly by lowering avaricious monetary attitudes. To test our theory, we collected data from 523 individuals with the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training and 307 individuals without MBSR. The results of our whole sample (N = 830) support our theory. Three multiple-group confirmatory factor analyses (MGCFAs) reveal intriguing discoveries. First, with MBSR training, mindfulness excites consumer ethical beliefs directly and indirectly. Without training, trait mindfulness fails to reduce monetary attitudes—mindfulness training matters. Second, the power of MBSR training holds for participants completing the training within 1 year, but wears off after 1 year—the duration after training matters. Finally, after 1 year, the training retains its strength for those who practice mindfulness, but weakens its power for those who do not—practice matters. We shed light on mindfulness, monetary wisdom, and consumer ethics, in particular, and business ethics, in general.

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Notes

  1. We use a capitalized word Rich to represent Factor Rich. We apply this principle to all factors of this construct.

  2. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation. For the love of money is the root of all evils (1 Timothy 6: 9–10).

  3. We collected data from individuals who underwent MBSR training on their own initiatives, outside of their professional contexts.  Moreover, prior studies did not show differences in the level of mindfulness, depending on the business sectors. Therefore, we did not collect data on participants' industry or firm.

  4. Researchers eliminated four items and rephrased three items, making the revised scale accessible to the French population.

  5. Internal consistency indicates at least a moderate correlation among the indicators of a construct. A score of average variance extracted (AVE) above 0.5 indicates convergent validity (Fornell and Larcker 1981).

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Acknowledgements

We thank Emmanuel Faure (la 8ème semaine) for his support in the data collection, Alex Sherrod, and Herschel Paulk for their assistance.

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Correspondence to Elodie Gentina.

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Appendices

Appendix 1: Mindfulness & ethics—empirical studies

Mindfulness Authors Sample Mindfulness measure Ethical measure Key findings
Trait Barbaro and Pickett (2016) Study 1: 360 undergraduate students at a Midwest University, mean age 20,11 years
Study 2: 296 participants with a mean age of 38 years
Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (Baer et al. 2006) Connectedness to nature scale (CNS;
Mayer and Frantz 2004)
Pro-environmental behavior scale (PEB; Whitmarsh and O’Neill 2010)
Mindfulness is significantly associated with pro-environmental behavior and connectedness to nature
Trait Brown and Kasser 2005 Study 1: 206 students in two Midwest US middle and high schools, mean age 14,2
Study 2: 440 adults mean age 44 years
MAAS (Brown and Ryan 2003) Ecological Footprint Questionnaire
(EFQ; Dholakia and Wackernagel 1999)
Mindfulness promotes ecologically responsible behavior
Trait Dandhra and Park (2018) 146 students from a large public university in India, mean age of 21 MAAS (Brown and Ryan 2003) Ethical beliefs with the CES (Vitell and Muncy 2005) Mindful individuals make lenient ethical judgments
Trait Kalafatoglu and Turgut (2017) 250 white collar employees working in Istanbul Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (Walach et al. 2006) Ethical Behavior Rating Scale (Blasi 1980; Hogan 1973) Mindfulness has significant relationships with ethical behavior.
Trait Pandey et al. (2018) Study 1: 390 graduate business students from four business schools in western and southern parts of India
Study 2: 92 graduate students enrolled in a master’s program in management in a premier business school in India
Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (Baer et al. 2006) Moral Judgment Interview (MJI) (Kohlberg et al. 1981) Trait mindfulness is positively related to moral reasoning
Mindfulness training is positively related to moral reasoning
Trait Reb et al. (2018) Study 1: 76 triads of leaders, subordinates and peers, primarily Singaporean by nationality and Chinese by ethnic descent.
Study 2: 227 dyads of leaders-subordinates
MAAS (Brown and Ryan 2003) Interpersonal justice (Colquitt 2001) Leader mindfulness is positively related to employee interpersonal justice
Trait and intervention Ruedy and Schweitzer (2010) Study 1: 97 participants from a large North-eastern university
Study 2: 135 participants, mean age 21,1
MAAS (Brown and Ryan 2003)
MMS (Bodner and Langer 2001)
Self-reported Inappropriate Negotiation Strategies Scale (SINS; Robinson et al. 2000)
Self-importance of moral identity (SMI) (Aquino and Reed 2002).
CAM (carbonless anagram method)
Study 1 establishes a significant link between trait mindfulness and ethical decision-making
Study 2 suggests that mindfulness curtails unethical behavior
Trait and intervention Shapiro et al. (2012) 25 adults from a graduate course at a local university Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (Baer et al. 2006)
MAAS (Brown and Ryan 2003)
DIT-2 MBSR is associated with improved moral reasoning and ethical decision-making

Appendix 2: Items and Constructs of our Major Measures

  1. 1.

    Mindfulness* (MAAS, Brown and Ryan 2003)

    1. 1.

      I could be experiencing some emotion and not be conscious of it until sometime later.

    2. 2.

      I break or spill things because of carelessness, not paying attention, or thinking of something else.

    3. 3.

      I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.

    4. 4.

      I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along the way.

    5. 5.

      I tend not to notice feelings of physical tension or discomfort until they really grab my attention.

    6. 6.

      I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time.

    7. 7.

      It seems I am “running on automatic” without much awareness of what I’m doing.

    8. 8.

      I rush through activities without being really attentive to them

    9. 9.

      I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch with what I am doing right now to get there

    10. 10.

      I do jobs or tasks automatically, without being aware of what I’m doing

    11. 11.

      I find myself listening to someone with one ear, doing something else at the same time

    12. 12.

      I drive places on ‘automatic pilot’ and then wonder why I went there

    13. 13.

      I find myself preoccupied with the future or the past

    14. 14.

      I find myself doing things without paying attention

    15. 15.

      I snack without being aware that I’m eating.

  2. 2.

    Avaricious Monetary Attitudes** (Tang et al. 2018b)

    Affective

    1. 1.

      I want to be Rich

    2. 2.

      Money is a Motivator

    3. 3.

      Money is Important

      Behavioral

    4. 4.

      I work hard to make money

    5. 5.

      I budget money carefully

    6. 6.

      I donate money to charities and give money to the poor.

      Cognitive

    7. 7.

      Money is a sign of my achievement

    8. 8.

      Money helps me earn respect

    9. 9.

      Money represents power

    10. 10.

      Money makes me feel good

  3. 3.

    Consumer Ethics (Muncy and Vitell 1992)***

    Actively Benefiting from Illegal Activities

    1. 1.

      Giving misleading price information to a clerk for an unpriced item†

    2. 2.

      Using the phone card–SIM–of a cell phone that does not belong to you†

    3. 3.

      Drinking a can of soda in a store without paying for it†

    4. 4.

      Changing price tags on merchandise in a retail store

    5. 5.

      Returning damaged goods when the damage was your fault

      Passively Benefiting

    6. 6.

      Lying about a child’s age to get a lower price

    7. 7.

      Not saying anything when the waiter or waitress miscalculates a bill in your favor

    8. 8.

      Getting too much change and not saying anything†

    9. 9.

      Being on holidays in a rented apartment with your family, you use an Internet connection without paying for it

      Deceptive or Questionable

    10. 10.

      Knowingly using an expired coupon for merchandise

    11. 11.

      Returning merchandise to a store by claiming it was a gift when it was not

    12. 12.

      Using a coupon for merchandise you did not buy

      No Harm/No Foul

    13. 13.

      Spending over an hour trying on clothes and not buying anything

    14. 14.

      Downloading movies on Internet rather than buying them

    15. 15.

      Returning merchandise because you don’t like it

    16. 16.

      Borrowing a CD from a friend, burning it rather than buying it

      All items were measured using a 5-point scale with different scale anchors.

      *Almost always very frequently (1) to very infrequently (6).

      **Strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5).

      ***Strongly believe that it is wrong (1) to strongly believe that it is not wrong (5).

      A high score means doing something unethical.

      Items used in the theoretical model.

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Gentina, E., Daniel, C. & Tang, T.LP. Mindfulness Reduces Avaricious Monetary Attitudes and Enhances Ethical Consumer Beliefs: Mindfulness Training, Timing, and Practicing Matter. J Bus Ethics 173, 301–323 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-020-04559-5

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness/state/trait
  • Buddhism/spiritual/sacred/religious values
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) training/mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs)
  • Consumer ethics
  • Ethical-unethical beliefs/dishonesty/deceptive practices
  • Retail/marketing
  • Decision-making
  • Monetary intelligence/wisdom
  • Avaricious monetary aspiration/the love of money attitude/greed/meaning of money
  • Materialism/secular values