The Construct of Mindfulness Amidst and Along Conceptions of Rationality

  • Mihnea Moldoveanu


Is it rational to be mindful? Can one be ‘mindfully rational’? Rationally mindful? Research and thinking on the topics of rationality, rational choice, rational belief, and epistemic rationality has proceeded in isolation from work and thinking on mindfulness, mindfulness-including interventions, and the epistemological constructivism they often entail. To a strict Bayesian expected value maximizer, engaging in mindfulness-inducing exercises could seem as irrational as his own optimization routines can seem mindless. But appearances can be deceiving, and I argue that they indeed are. I lay out a map for ‘gains from conceptual trade’ based on modifying one of the core modeling moves used by rational choice researchers—and sketch a way of attaining them.


Mindfulness Rational choice models Epistemic rationality Syntactic state spaces 


  1. Burpee, L. C., & Langer, E. J. (2005). Mindfulness and marital satisfaction. Journal of Adult Development, 12(1), 43–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Crum, A. J., & Langer, E. J. (2007). Mind-set matters exercise and the placebo effect. Psychological Science, 18(2), 165–171.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Delizonna, L. L., Williams, R. P., & Langer, E. J. (2009). The effect of mindfulness on heart rate control. Journal of Adult Development, 16(2), 61–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dunoon, D., & Langer, E. (2011). Mindfulness and leadership: Opening up to possibilities. Integral Leadership Review, 11(5).Google Scholar
  5. Dunoon, D., & Langer, E. (2012). Mindful leadership communication: Three keys for action. Training & Development, 39(3), 12.Google Scholar
  6. Goodman, N. (1954), Fact, Fiction and Forecast. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Jaynes, E. T. (2001). Probability theory: The logic of science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Langer, E. J. (1989). Mindfulness. Waltham: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  9. Langer, E. J. (1993). A mindful education. Educational Psychologist, 28(1), 43–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Langer, E. J., & Abelson, R. P. (1974). A patient by any other name…: Clinician group difference in labeling bias. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42(1), 4.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Langer, E. J., Beck, P., Winman, C., Rodin, J., & Spitzer, L. (1979). Environmental determinants of memory improvement in late adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37(11), 2003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Langer, E. J., & Brown, J. P. (1992). Mindful learning: A world without losers. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education1992(53), 11–20.Google Scholar
  13. Langer, E. J., Cohen, M., & Djikic, M. (2012). Mindfulness as a psychological attractor: The effect on children. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42, 1114–1122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Langer, E. J., Janis, I. L., & Wolfer, J. A. (1975). Reduction of psychological stress in surgical patients. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 11(2), 155–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Langer, E. J., & Moldoveanu, M. (2000). The construct of mindfulness. Journal of social issues, 56(1), 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Langer, E. J., & Piper, A. I. (1987). The prevention of mindlessness. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53(2), 280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Levy, B. R., Jennings, P., & Langer, E. J. (2001). Improving attention in old age. Journal of Adult Development, 8(3), 189–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Margolis, J., & Langer, E. (1990). An analysis of addictions from a mindful/mindless perspective. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 4(2), 107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Moldoveanu, M. (2011). Inside man: The discipline of modeling human ways of being. Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Moldoveanu, M. C., & Langer, E. J. (1999). Mindfulness, in Runco, In M. Pritzker & S. A. Pritzker (Eds.), Encyclopedia of creativity. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  21. Newman, H. M., & Langer, E. J. (1981). Post-divorce adaptation and the attribution of responsibility. Sex Roles, 7(3), 223–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Putnam, H. (1981). Reason, truth and history, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations