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Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Sober Second Thought? A Pre-Registered Experiment on the Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Political Tolerance

Michael Bang Petersen & Panagiotis Mitkidis
Originally posted October 20, 2019


Mindfulness meditation is increasingly promoted as a tool to foster more inclusive and tolerant societies and, accordingly, meditation practice has been adopted in a number of public institutions including schools and legislatures. Here, we provide the first empirical test of the effects of mindfulness meditation on political and societal attitudes by examining whether completion in a 15-minute mindfulness meditation increases tolerance towards disliked groups relative to relevant control conditions. Analyses of data from a pilot experiment (N = 54) and a pre-registered experiment (N = 171) provides no evidence that mindfulness meditation increases political tolerance. Furthermore, exploratory analyses show that individual differences in trait mindfulness is not associated with differences in tolerance. These results suggest that there is reason to pause recommending mindfulness meditation as a way to achieve democratically desirable outcomes or, at least, that short-term meditation is not sufficient to generate these.

The research is here.