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Mindfulness Practices Moderate the Association Between Intergroup Anxiety and Outgroup Attitudes

Abstract

In prior literature, intergroup contact has been associated with better attitudes toward outgroups, but intergroup anxiety mediates this relationship. Higher anxiety is associated with less-favorable outgroup attitudes. We hypothesized that this meditational association would be moderated by frequency of mindfulness and contemplative practices. Study 1 surveyed Christian, Hindu, and Muslim college students in India regarding their frequency of practices, intergroup contact, intergroup anxiety, and attitudes (i.e., favorability and trait ratings) about primary and secondary outgroups. Study 2 measured these same variables with White/European, African, and Hispanic American adults. The results showed that participants that reported higher intergroup anxiety reported more negative outgroup attitudes. This relationship, however, was moderated by mindfulness-type practices: among participants who frequently engaged in these practices, this association was reduced compared with those who reported little or no mindfulness-type practices. The findings suggest that mindfulness and contemplative practices may help people regulate feelings of intergroup anxiety, which may in turn reduce the likelihood that intergroup anxiety exacerbates negative attitudes toward outgroups.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the Research Board and the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri for their grant support of this project.

Author Contributions

MAP-B assisted with executing a second study, analyzed data for both studies, and wrote the manuscript and revisions. SVK collaborated with design of both studies, assisted with data collection of the first study, and assisted with editing the first draft of the manuscript. VM executed the first study and entered all data for the first study. KMS advised on study methodology and statistical approach and edited the first draft of the paper. BAB designed and executed both studies, analyzed data for both studies, and served as senior editor on the manuscript and its revisions.

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Correspondence to B. Ann Bettencourt.

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This project was based on work supported in part by a Research Board grant from the University of Missouri, Columbia and by the Department of Psychological Sciences provided to B. Ann Bettencourt.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Price-Blackshear, M.A., Kamble, S.V., Mudhol, V. et al. Mindfulness Practices Moderate the Association Between Intergroup Anxiety and Outgroup Attitudes. Mindfulness 8, 1172–1183 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0689-y

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness practices
  • Meditation
  • Contemplative practices
  • Outgroup attitudes
  • Intergroup anxiety
  • Intergroup generalization