Relating to Self and Other: Mindfulness Predicts Compassionate and Self-Image Relationship Goals

Abstract

In three studies, we tested the hypothesis that mindfulness is associated with and predicts the relationship goals to be compassionate and to bolster one’s self-image. In the first two studies, both cross-sectional, mindfulness was associated with higher compassionate goals and lower self-image goals. Study 3 replicated these findings both before and after a 2-week daily diary exercise. In addition, mindfulness at pretest predicted change in compassionate and self-image goals over the course of the study. Aggregating across studies, controlling for negative affectivity, mindfulness, and several of its facets were uniquely associated with compassionate goals. Mindfulness and non-judging of experience were each uniquely associated with lower self-image goals. These findings suggest that how people relate to their own experiences—namely, the extent to which they attend to present-moment experiences without judgment—is associated with their intentions toward others.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Joanna Anderson, Laura Brown, Courtney Forbes, Hana Le, Emily Maher, Elin Ryd, Sharon Shih, and Lauren Skalina for their assistance in various aspects of this project.

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Correspondence to Anthony H. Ahrens.

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Stewart, K.L., Ahrens, A.H. & Gunthert, K.C. Relating to Self and Other: Mindfulness Predicts Compassionate and Self-Image Relationship Goals. Mindfulness 9, 176–186 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0760-8

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Compassionate goals
  • Self-image goals
  • Relationship goals