Mindfulness Facets Predict Helping Behavior and Distinct Helping-Related Emotions

Abstract

Contemplative practices have long emphasized the development of mindfulness: a skill that involves present-focused attention and nonjudgmental acceptance of experiences. In the current study, we examine the relationship between these two facets of mindfulness—which are independent in novices—and helping behavior and its emotional correlates. Attention and acceptance each predicted self-reported engagement in real-world helping behavior. Additionally, present-focused attention predicted increased positive emotions during helping—such as love/closeness, moral elevation, and joy—but did not predict negative emotions. By contrast, nonjudgmental acceptance predicted decreased negative emotions during helping—such as stress, disgust, and guilt—but did not predict positive emotions. When helping others, it appears to take two processes—attention and acceptance—to support our intention and reap the richest emotional consequences.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Algoe, S. B. (2012). Find, remind, and bind: the functions of gratitude in everyday relationships. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 6, 455–469.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13, 27–45.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Lykins, E., Button, D., Krietemeyer, J., Sauer, S., Walsh, E., Duggan, D., & Williams, J. M. G. (2008). Construct validity of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire in meditating and non-meditating samples. Assessment, 15, 329–341.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Batson, C. D. (2011). Altruism in humans. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Batson, C. D., Polycarpou, M. P., Harmon-Jones, E., Imhoff, H. J., Mitchener, E. C., Bednar, L. L., Klein, T. R., & Highberger, L. (1997). Empathy and attitudes: can feeling for a member of a stigmatized group improve feelings toward that group? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 105–118.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Baumeister, R. F., Vohs, K. D., DeWall, C. N., & Zhang, L. (2007). How emotion shapes behavior: feedback, anticipation, and reflection, rather than direct causation. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 11, 167–203.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L. E., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., Segal, Z. V., Abbey, S., Speca, M., Velting, D., & Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Brewer, J. A., Worhunsky, P. D., Gray, J. R., Tang, Y. Y., Weber, J., & Kober, H. (2011). Meditation experience is associated with differences in default mode network activity and connectivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108, 20254–20259.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2007). Mindfulness: theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 211–237.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Bryant, F. B. (2003). Savoring Beliefs Inventory (SBI): a scale for measuring beliefs about savoring. Journal of Mental Health, 12, 175–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cameron, C. D., & Payne, B. K. (2011). Escaping affect: how motivated emotion regulation creates insensitivity to mass suffering. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 1–15.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Cameron, C. D., & Payne, B. K. (2012). The cost of callousness: regulating compassion influences the moral self-concept. Psychological Science, 23, 225–229.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Catalino, L. I., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2011). Tuesdays in the lives of flourishers: the role of positive emotional reactivity in optimal mental health. Emotion, 11, 938–950.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Coffey, K. A., Hartman, M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2010). Deconstructing mindfulness and constructing mental health: understanding mindfulness and its mechanisms of action. Mindfulness, 1, 235–253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Condon, P., & DeSteno, D. (2010). Compassion for one reduces punishment for another. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 698–701.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Condon, P., Desbordes, G., Miller, W., & DeSteno, D. (2013). Meditation increases compassionate responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24, 2125–2127.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Dalai Lama, T. G., & Ekman, P. (2008). Emotional awareness: overcoming the obstacles to psychological balance and compassion: a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Paul Ekman. New York: Times Books/Henry Holt.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Decety, J. (2011). Dissecting the neural mechanisms mediating empathy. Emotion Review, 3, 92–108.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Dekeyser, M., Raes, F., Leijssen, M., Leysen, S., & Dewulf, D. (2008). Mindfulness skills and interpersonal behaviour. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 1235–1245.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Positive emotions broaden and build. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 1–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Fredrickson, B. L., Cohn, M. A., Coffey, K. A., Pek, J., & Finkel, S. M. (2008). Open hearts build lives: positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation, build consequential personal resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1045–1062.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Garland, E., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Mindfulness broadens awareness and builds meaning at the attention-emotion interface. In T. B. Kashdan & J. Ciarrochi (Eds.), Mindfulness, acceptance, and positive psychology: the seven foundations of well-being (pp. 30–67). Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Goetz, J. L., Keltner, D., & Simon-Thomas, E. (2010). Compassion: an evolutionary analysis and empirical review. Psychological Bulletin, 136, 351–374.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Gratz, K. L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: development, factor structure, and initial validation of the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26, 41–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Hayes, S. C., Luoma, J. B., Bond, F. W., Masuda, A., & Lillis, J. (2006). Acceptance and commitment therapy: model, processes, and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 1–25.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Hill, C. L., & Updegraff, J. A. (2012). Mindfulness and its relationship to emotional regulation. Emotion, 12, 81–90.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Holzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 537–559.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Isen, A. M. (1987). Positive affect, cognitive processes, and social behavior. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 20, 203–253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kashdan, T. B., Barrios, V., Forsyth, J. P., & Steger, M. F. (2006). Experiential avoidance as a generalized psychological vulnerability: comparisons with coping and emotion regulation strategies. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 1301–1320.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Killingsworth, M. A., & Gilbert, D. T. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science, 330, 932.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Klimecki, O., & Singer, T. (2012). Empathic distress fatigue rather than compassion fatigue? Integrating findings from empathy research in psychology and social neuroscience. In B. Oakley, A. Knafo, G. Madhavan, & D. S. Wilson (Eds.), Pathological altruism (pp. 368–383). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Klimecki, O. M., Leiberg, S., Lamm, C., & Singer, T. (2013). Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training. Cerebral Cortex, 23, 1552–1561.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Kok, B., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2010). Upward spirals of the heart: autonomic flexibility, as indexed by vagal tone, reciprocally and prospectively predicts positive emotions and social connectedness. Biological Psychology, 85, 432–436.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Linehan, M. M. (1993). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of borderline personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Oppenheimer, D. M., Meyvis, T., & Davidenko, N. (2009). Instructional manipulation checks: detecting satisficing to increase statistical power. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 867–872.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Oveis, C., Horberg, E. J., & Keltner, D. (2010). Compassion, pride, and social intuitions of self-other similarity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 98, 618–630.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Preston, S. D., & de Waal, F. B. (2002). Empathy: its ultimate and proximate bases. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 25, 1–20.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Quoidback, J., Berry, E. V., Hansenne, M., & Mikolajczak, M. (2010). Positive emotion regulation and wellbeing: comparing the impact of eight savoring and dampening strategies. Personality and Individual Differences, 49, 368–373.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Robinson, M. D., & Clore, G. L. (2002). Belief and feeling: evidence for an accessibility model of emotional self-report. Psychological Bulletin, 128, 934–960.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Schnall, S., Roper, J., & Fessler, D. M. T. (2010). Elevation leads to altruistic behavior. Psychological Science, 21, 315–320.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Shallcross, A. J., Ford, B. Q., Floerke, V. A., & Mauss, I. B. (2013). Getting better with age: the relationship between age, acceptance, and negative affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 734–749.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G. E., & Bonner, G. (1998). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on medical and premedical students. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 21, 581–599.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Vacharkulksemsuk, T., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2012). Strangers in sync: achieving embodied rapport through shared movements. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 399–402.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Valdesolo, P., & DeSteno, D. (2011). Synchrony and the social tuning of compassion. Emotion, 11, 262–266.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Weng, H. Y., Fox, A. S., Shackman, A. J., Stodola, D. E., Caldwell, J. Z., Olson, M. C., Rogers, G. M., & Davidson, R. J. (2013). Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering. Psychological Science, 24, 1171–1180.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to C. Daryl Cameron.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Cameron, C.D., Fredrickson, B.L. Mindfulness Facets Predict Helping Behavior and Distinct Helping-Related Emotions. Mindfulness 6, 1211–1218 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0383-2

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Helping behavior
  • Altruism