Present with You: Does Cultivated Mindfulness Predict Greater Social Connection Through Gains in Decentering and Reductions in Negative Emotions?
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The current study investigates whether mindfulness increases feelings of social connection and tests possible mechanisms of action and consequences of any gains observed. We hypothesized that, relative to an active control condition, participants randomized to a mindfulness meditation course would experience gains in feeling socially connected. Further, we expected these gains would be mediated by boosts in decentering and reductions in negative emotions and that, as a result of greater social connection, participants would report greater positive emotions. Ninety-four community member adults were randomly assigned to a 6-week Mindfulness Meditation course (n = 51) or a 6-week active control course (“Health Promotion”; n = 43). Participants were assessed for social connection, decentering, and emotions at pre- and post-training. A higher-order latent change model found support for elements of the model that were unrelated to the experimental condition. An exploratory higher-order latent change model found that gains in trait mindfulness, rather than condition, supported the hypothesized model. These findings suggest that gains in trait mindfulness predict greater social connection through boosts in decentering and that gains in social connection predict greater positive emotions.
KeywordsMindfulness Trait mindfulness Social connection Relationships Decentering Positive emotions Negative emotions Active control
We would like to thank the hardworking members of the research team who contributed to this project: Ann Firestine, Nikki Barczak, Stephanie Tepper, Katie Reiter-Lavery, Cameron Doyle, Lauren Spoeneman, Tammy Dragich, Virginia Davis, Sarah Marshall, and Heather Matia. We would also like to express our sincere appreciation for feedback on this project and manuscript from Dr. Sara Algoe, Dr. Keith Payne, and Dr. Paschal Sheeran.
KCA developed the hypotheses, designed and executed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper. BLF co-developed the hypothesized model and study design, consulted on the execution of the study and the analyses, and assisted in writing the paper. LCS provided guidance on analytical methods and consulted on writing the results and discussion sections. SK and SS developed the curriculum and taught the workshops.
This work was supported by a 1440 award from the Mind and Life Institute, awarded to the first author (grant number 2013-1440-Adair).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
This research was approved by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institutional Review Board. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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