Helping People by Being Present
This research evaluated whether mindfulness practices can increase helping (prosocial) behaviors in the workplace. The investigators did a series of studies in the US and India. They found that employees who were assigned daily mindfulness training reported more helping behaviors than those who did not do the training. In a second study, they found that those participating in the mindfulness training were rated by co-workers as having more prosocial behaviors. In a third study, they found that individuals randomly assigned to engage in a focused breathing meditation were more financially generous. To understand the mechanisms of the mindfulness effects on prosocial behaviors, a final study found support for the importance of both increased empathy and perspective taking. This study found similar effects for both focused breathing and loving kindness meditations. The authors concluded that, taken together, these results indicate that mindfulness training can result in people being more other-oriented and helpful, even in the workplace where other factors might tend to limit this effect.
Hafenbrack et al. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 2020;159:21-38.
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