Skip to main content
Log in

Mindfulness Training, Implicit Bias, and Force Response Decision-Making

  • ORIGINAL PAPER
  • Published:
Mindfulness Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Objectives

The goal of this study was to assess the preliminary efficacy of a mindfulness-based training (mindfulness-based resilience training; MBRT) in improving weapon identification among law enforcement officers (LEOs).

Methods

Participants (N = 61) were randomly assigned to either MBRT or a no-intervention control (NIC) group. A self-report questionnaire assessing mindfulness and a computerized measure assessing implicit stereotype reliance were administered at baseline, post-training, and 3 months following intervention completion. We also collected information about meditation practice outside of the training for LEOs in the MBRT group.

Results

Inferential analyses yielded improvements in mindfulness in the MBRT group compared to NIC. Analyses did not provide evidence for implicit stereotype reliance at baseline and therefore did not yield a significant impact of MBRT versus NIC on implicit stereotype reliance, ps > .05; however, participants across both conditions exerted more control when responding to Black male targets compared to White male targets, F(1,74) = 3.98, p = .05, 95% CI [− .05, − .01], d = .36.

Conclusions

Our results do not provide evidence for the impact of MBRT on weapon identification but do suggest that LEOs exerted more effort when responding to images of Black males compared to White males. We discuss recommendations for future clinical trials assessing implicit stereotype reliance, viz., that researchers utilize measures more sensitive to a wider range of LEO samples and with higher ecological validity, and we discuss potential reasons why our results do not align with past research.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Akinola, M., & Mendes, W. B. (2012). Stress-induced cortisol facilitates threat-related decision making among police officers. Behavioral Neuroscience, 126(1), 167–174.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Amodio, D. M., Harmon-Jones, E., Devine, P. G., Curtin, J. J., Hartley, S. L., & Covert, A. E. (2004). Neural signals for the detection of unintentional race bias. Psychological Science, 15(2), 88–93.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Andersen, J. P., & Gustafsberg, H. (2016). A training method to improve police use of force decision making: a randomized controlled trial. SAGE Open, 6(2), 2158244016638708.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Avdija, A. S. (2014). Stress and law enforcers: testing the relationship between law enforcement work stressors and health-related issues. Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine, 2(1), 100–110.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • 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(1), 27–45.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bohlmeijer, E., ten Klooster, P. M., Fledderus, M., Veehof, M., & Baer, R. (2011). Psychometric properties of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in depressed adults and development of a short form. Assessment, 18(3), 308–320.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chiesa, A., Calati, R., & Serretti, A. (2011). Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(3), 449–464.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in health people: a review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593–600.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Chopko, B. A., & Schwartz, R. C. (2013). The relation between mindfulness and posttraumatic stress symptoms among police officers. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 18(1), 1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Christopher, M. S., Goerling, R. J., Rogers, B. S., Hunsinger, M., Baron, G., Bergman, A. L., & Zava, D. T. (2016). A pilot study evaluating the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention on cortisol awakening response and health outcomes among law enforcement officers. Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology, 31(1), 15–28.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Christopher, M. S., Hunsinger, M., Goerling, L. R. J., Bowen, S., Rogers, B. S., Gross, C. R., Dapalonia, E., & Pruessner, J. C. (2018). Mindfulness-based resilience training to reduce health risk, stress reactivity, and aggression among law enforcement officers: a feasibility and preliminary efficacy trial. Psychiatry Research, 264, 104–115.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Correll, J., Hudson, S. M., Guillermo, S., & Ma, D. S. (2014). The police officer’s dilemma: a decade of research on racial bias in the decision to shoot. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 8(5), 201–213.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Correll, J., Park, B., Judd, C. M., & Wittenbrink, B. (2002). The police officer’s dilemma: using ethnicity to disambiguate potentially threatening individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(6), 1314–1329.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Correll, J., Wittenbrink, B., Park, B., Judd, C. M., Sadler, M. S., & Keesee, T. (2007). Across the thin blue line: police officers and racial bias in the decision to shoot. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1006–1023.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Cottrell, C. A., & Neuberg, S. L. (2005). Different emotional reactions to different groups: a sociofunctional threat-based approach to “prejudice.”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(5), 770–789.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Crosswell, A. D., Moreno, P. I., Raposa, E. B., Motivala, S. J., Stanton, A. L., Ganz, P. A., & Bower, J. E. (2017). Effects of mindfulness training on emotional and physiologic recovery from induced negative affect. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 86, 78–86.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • de Bruin, E. I., Topper, M., Muskens, J. G., Bögels, S. M., & Kamphuis, J. H. (2012). Psychometric properties of the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) in a meditating and a non-meditating sample. Assessment, 19(2), 187–197.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dias-Ferreira, E., Sousa, J. C., Melo, I., Morgado, P., Mesquita, A. R., Cerqueira, J. J., et al. (2009). Chronic stress causes frontostriatal reorganization and affects decision-making. Science, 325(5940), 621–625.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dror, I. E. (2007). Perception of risk and the decision to use force. Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, 1(3), 265–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • DuCharme, S. D. (2002). The search for reasonableness in use-of-force cases: understanding the effects of stress on perception and performance. Fordham Law Review, 70, 47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eberhardt, J. L., Davies, P. G., Purdie-Vaughns, V. J., & Johnson, S. L. (2006). Looking deathworthy: perceived stereotypicality of black defendants predicts capital-sentencing outcomes. Psychological Science, 17(5), 383–386.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fachner, G., & Carter, S. (2015). Collaborative reform initiative: an assessment of deadly force in the Philadelphia police department. Washington, DC: Community Oriented Policing Services, U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved from httpd://ric-zai-inc.com/ric.php?page=detailandid=COPS=W0753.

  • Forscher, P., Lai, C. R. Axt, J., Ebersole, C. R., Herman, M., Devine, P., & Nosek, B. (2016). A meta-analysis of change in implicit bias. PsyArXiv Preprints. Retreived from https://psyarxiv.com/dv8tu. Accessed 1 Apr 2019

  • Friese, M., Hoffmann, W., & Wänke, M. (2008). When impulses take over: moderated predictive validity of explicit and implicit attitude measures in predicting food choice and consumption behavior. British Journal of Social Psychology, 47(3), 397–419.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gawronski, B., & Bodenhausen, G. V. (2006). Associative and propositional processes in evaluation: an integrative review of implicit and explicit attitude change. Psychological Bulletin, 132(5), 692–731.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gouin, J. P., Glaser, R., Malarkey, W. B., Beversdorf, D., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. (2012). Chronic stress, daily stressors, and circulating inflammatory markers. Health Psychology, 31(2), 264–268.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Greenwald, A. G., McGhee, D. E., & Schwartz, J. L. K. (1998). Measuring individual differences in implicit cognition: the implicit association test. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(6), 1464–1480.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Greenwald, A. G., Poehlman, T. A., Uhlmann, E. L., & Banaji, M. R. (2009). Understanding and using the Implicit Association Test: III. Meta-analysis of predictive validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(1), 17–41.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hetey, R. C., & Eberhardt, J. L. (2018). The numbers don’t speak for themselves: racial disparities and the persistence of inequality in the criminal justice system. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(3), 183–187.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hofmann, W., & Friese, M. (2008). Impulses got the better of me: alcohol moderates the influence of implicit attitudes toward food cues on eating behavior. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117(2), 420–427.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hofmann, W., Rauch, W., & Gawronski, B. (2007). And deplete us not into temptation: automatic attitudes, dietary restraint, and self-regulatory resources as determinants of eating behavior. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(3), 497–504.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holmes, M. D., & Smith, B. W. (2012). Intergroup dynamics of extra-legal police aggression: an integrated theory of race and place. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 17(4), 344–353.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jacoby, L. L. (1991). A process dissociation framework: separating automatic from intentional uses of memory. Journal of Memory and Language, 5, 513–541.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • James, L., James, S. M., & Vila, B. J. (2016). The reverse racism effect: are cops more hesitant to shoot Black than White suspects? American Society of Criminology, 15(2), 457–479.

    Google Scholar 

  • James, L., Klinger, D., & Vila, B. (2014). Racial and ethnic bias in decisions to shoot seen through a stronger lens: experimental results from high-fidelity laboratory simulations. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 10(3), 323–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • James, L., Vila, B., & Daratha, K. (2013). Results from experimental trials testing participant responses to White, Hispanic and Black suspects in high-fidelity deadly force judgment and decision-making simulations. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 9(2), 189–212.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jha, A. P., Stanley, E. A., Kiyonaga, A., Wong, L., & Gelfand, L. (2010). Examining the protective effects of mindfulness training on working memory capacity and affective experience. Emotion, 10(1), 54–64.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full catastrophe living (revised edition): using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Group.

  • Kaplan, J. B., Bergman, A. L., Christopher, M., Bowen, S., & Hunsinger, M. (2017). Role of resilience in mindfulness training for first responders. Mindfulness, 8(5), 1373–1380.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kleider, H. M., Parrott, D. J., & King, T. Z. (2010). Shooting behaviour: how working memory and negative emotionality influence police officer shoot decisions. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24(5), 707–717.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kubota, J. T., & Ito, T. A. (2014). The role of expression and race in weapons identification. Emotion, 14(6), 1115–1124.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Lilja, J. L., Lundh, L. G., Josefsoon, T., & Falkenström (2013). Observing as an essential facet of mindfulness: a comparison of FFMQ patterns in meditating and non-meditating individuals. Mindfulness, 4(3), 203–212.

  • Lueke, A., & Gibson, B. (2014). Mindfulness meditation reduces implicit age and race bias: the role of reduced automaticity of responding. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 6(3), 284–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lueke, A., & Gibson, B. (2016). Brief mindfulness meditation reduces discrimination. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 3(1), 34–44.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ma, D. S., & Correll, J. (2011). Target prototypicality moderates racial bias in the decision to shoot. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47, 391–396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ma, D. S., Correll, J., Wittenbrink, B., Bar-Anan, Yoav, B., Sriram, N., & Nosek, B. A. (2013). When fatigue turns deadly: the association between fatigue and racial bias in the decision to shoot. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 25, 515–524.

  • McCraty, R., & Atkinson, M. (2012). Resilience training program reduces physiological and psychological stress in police officers. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 1(5), 44–66.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • McEwen, B. S. (2012). Brain on stress: how the social environment gets under the skin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(Supplement 2), 17180–17185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mekawi, Y., & Bresin, K. (2015). Is the evidence from racial bias shooting task studies a smoking gun? Results from a meta-analysis. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 61, 120–130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nieuwenhuys, A., Savelsbergh, G. J. P., & Oudejans, R. R. D. (2012). Shoot or don’t shoot? Why police officers are more inclined to shoot when they are anxious. Emotion, 12(4), 827–833.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nix, J., Campbell, B. A., Byers, E. H., & Alpert, G. P. (2017). A bird’s eye view of civilians killed by police in 2015. Criminology and Public Policy, 16, 309–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • O’Hara, A. F., Violanti, J. M., Levenson, R. L., & Clark, R. G. (2013). National police suicide estimates: web surveillance study III. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 15(1), 31–38.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Parker, K., Horowitz, J. M., Brown, A., Fry, R., Cohn, D., & Igielnik, R. (2018, May 22). Demographic and economic trends in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Pew Research Center: Social & Demograhics Trends Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/05/22/demographic-and-economic-trends-in-urban-suburban-and-rural-communities/. Accessed 20 Mar 2019

  • Payne, B. K. (2001). Prejudice and perception: the role of automatic and controlled processes in misperceiving a weapon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(2), 181–192.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Payne, B. K. (2006). Weapon bias: split-second decisions and unintended stereotyping. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 15(6), 287–291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Plessow, F., Schade, S., Kirschbaum, C., & Fischer, R. (2017). Successful voluntary recruitment of cognitive control under acute stress. Cognition, 168, 182–190.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Porcelli, A. J., & Delgado, M. R. (2009). Acute stress modulates risk taking in financial decision making. Psychological Science, 20(3), 278–283.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Uusberg, H., Uusberg, A., Talpsep, T., & Paaver, M. (2016). Mechanisms of mindfulness: the dynamics of affective adaptation during open monitoring. Biological Psychology, 118, 94–106.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Violanti, J. M., Burchfiel, C. M., Miller, D. B., Andrew, M. E., Dorn, J., Wactawski-Wende, J., et al. (2006). The Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) pilot study: methods and participant characteristics. Annals of Epidemiology, 16(2), 148–156.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Violanti, J. M., Fekedulegn, D., Andrew, M. E., Charles, L. E., Hartley, T. A., & Burchfiel, C. M. (2011). Adiposity in policing: mental health consequences. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 13(4), 257–266.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wahbeh, H., Zwickey, H., & Oken, B. (2011). One method for objective adherence measurement in mind-body medicine. Joirnal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 17(2), 175–177.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Y., Zhu, J., Hu, Y., Fang, Y., Wang, G., Cui, X., & Wang, L. (2016). The effect of implicit preferences on food consumption: moderating role of ego depletion and impulsivity. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1699.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Wheeler, M. S., Arnkoff, D. B., & Glass, C. R. (2017). The neuroscience of mindfulness: how mindfulness alters the brain and facilitates emotion regulation. Mindfulness, 8(6), 1471–1487.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Whitmarsh, S., Uddén, J., Barendregt, H., & Petersson, K. M. (2013). Mindfulness reduces habitual responding based on implicit knowledge: evidence from artificial grammar learning. Consciousness and Cognition, 22(3), 833–845.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

Research reported in this publication was funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R21AT008854. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

MH: designed and executed the study; performed data analyses; and wrote the methods, results, and discussion sections. MC: designed and executed the study, provided feedback on data analyses, and provided feedback on writing the manuscript. AS: wrote the introduction section and provided feedback on the rest of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matthew Hunsinger.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of Interest

Matthew Hunsinger received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the reported study; Michael Christopher received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the reported study; Andi M. Schmidt has no funding to disclose.

Ethical Standards

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. The reported research was approved by the Interval Review Board at the home institution of all authors (Pacific University).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hunsinger, M., Christopher, M. & Schmidt, A.M. Mindfulness Training, Implicit Bias, and Force Response Decision-Making. Mindfulness 10, 2555–2566 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01213-8

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01213-8

Keywords

Navigation