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An Initial Examination of State and Longitudinal Effects of Loving-Kindness Practice on Affective and Motivational States at Work

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Drawing on practices and concepts from Buddhist ethics, we developed a loving-kindness training. We investigated the state and longitudinal effects of this training on employees’ affective and motivational states at work in two studies.


Study 1 tested this training program in a randomized controlled trial, comparing the effects of loving-kindness practice on employee affect and motivation with an active (mindfulness) and a passive (waitlist) control condition. Analyses focused on both longitudinal effects (increases in affect and motivation over the training period) and state effects (effects of practice on daily affect and motivation). Study 2 conducted a 1-week study to further probe the state effects of loving-kindness and the effectiveness of formal vs. informal practice.


Results indicated mixed support for longitudinal effects, with individuals in the loving-kindness condition showing increases in work motivation, affective valence, and activation over time but the majority of these increases not being statistically different from trends in the two control conditions. Analysis of state (day-level) effects found consistent support for a beneficial effect of loving-kindness practice on daily affective valence and motivation. Analyses from study 2 replicated these day-level effects and provided evidence for the efficacy of both formal and informal practice-based training programs.


This research provides initial support for the potential benefits of loving-kindness practice in a workplace context. We discuss theoretical and practical implications including the future of loving-kindness practice as a workplace training intervention.

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We would like to thank Cary Foster for audio recordings; Chihiro Yonemori and Kikuko Reb for translations; Chiaki Okawa, Rohit Mote, and Arno Alarcón for the logistic support of this research project; and Eva Peters for helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


This research was supported in part by a grant from Rakuten Institute of Technology (SMU Grant # MG19B03).

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Authors and Affiliations



TCMW: designed and executed the studies, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the manuscript. JR: designed and executed the studies and wrote the manuscript. WT: analyzed the data, wrote part of the results, and helped with editing of the manuscript. UB: designed and executed the study and helped with editing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Theodore C. Masters-Waage.

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Ethics Statement

All materials for this study were approved by Singapore Management University’s Institutional Review Board.

Informed Consent Statement

This research involves only human participants, all of whom provided informed consent before the study.

Conflict of Interest

This study was supported by a research grant from Rakuten Inc. which was also the organization where study 1 was conducted. One member of the authorship team (Udana Bandara) is employed by Rakuten Inc. but was not involved in decisions regarding data analysis and interpretation of the results (see “Author Contribution” statement). Therefore, the authorship team declares no conflict of interest for this research.

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Masters-Waage, T.C., Reb, J., Tov, W. et al. An Initial Examination of State and Longitudinal Effects of Loving-Kindness Practice on Affective and Motivational States at Work. Mindfulness 13, 174–187 (2022).

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