Compassion & Mindfulness Research
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What does it mean to feel loved: Cultural consensus and individual differences in felt love.

(Available in free full text) Cultural consensus theory is a statistical framework (CCT) for the study of individual differences in the knowledge of culturally shared opinions. In this article, we demonstrate how a CCT analysis can be used to study individual differences and cultural consensus on what makes people feel loved, or more generally any social behaviors that are governed by cognitive schemata. To highlight the advantages of the method, we describe a study in which people reported on their everyday experiences of feeling loved. Our unique approach to understanding this topic is to focus on people’s cognitive evaluations on what feeling loved (both romantically and nonromantically) entails by exploring the shared agreement regarding when one is most likely to feel loved and the individual differences that influence knowledge of these shared agreements. Our results reveal that people converge on a consensus about indicators of expressed love and that these scenarios are both romantic and nonromantic. Moreover, people show individual differences in (1) the amount of knowledge they have about this consensus and (2) their guessing biases in responding to items on love scenarios, depending on personality and demographics—all conclusions made possible by the CCT method. [Interesting comments about this article - https://tinyurl.com/y7wgvez5 - at BPS Research Digest].

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Which Facets of Mindfulness Protect Individuals from the Negative Experiences of Obsessive Intrusive Thoughts?

Which Facets of Mindfulness Protect Individuals from the Negative Experiences of Obsessive Intrusive Thoughts? | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) Obsessive intrusive thoughts (OITs) are experienced by the majority of the general population, and in their more extreme forms are characteristic of obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD). These cognitions are said to exist on a continuum that includes differences in their frequency and associated distress. The key factors that contribute to an increased frequency and distress are how the individual appraises and responds to the OIT. Facets of mindfulness, such as nonjudgment and nonreactivity, offer an alternative approach to OITs than the negative appraisals and commonly utilised control strategies that often contribute to distress. Clarifying the role of facets of mindfulness in relation to these cognitions offers a means to elucidate individual characteristics that may offer protection from distress associated with OITs. A sample of nonclinical individuals (n = 583) completed an online survey that assessed their experiences of OITs, including frequency, emotional reaction and appraisals, and trait mindfulness. The findings from a series of multiple regression analyses confirmed that specific facets of mindfulness relating to acting with awareness and acceptance (nonjudgment and nonreactivity) consistently predicted less frequent and distressing experiences of OITs. In contrast, the observe facet emerged as a consistent predictor of negative experiences of OITs. These findings suggest that acting with awareness and acceptance may confer protective characteristics in relation to OITs, but that the observe facet may reflect a hypervigilance to OITs. Mindfulness-based prevention and intervention for OCD should be tailored to take account of the potential differential effects of increasing specific facets of mindfulness.

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Visual Attention to Suffering After Compassion Training Is Associated With Decreased Amygdala Responses.

Visual Attention to Suffering After Compassion Training Is Associated With Decreased Amygdala Responses. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) Compassion meditation training is hypothesized to increase the motivational salience of cues of suffering, while also enhancing equanimous attention and decreasing emotional reactivity to suffering. However, it is currently unknown how compassion meditation impacts visual attention to suffering, and how this impacts neural activation in regions associated with motivational salience as well as aversive responses, such as the amygdala. Healthy adults were randomized to two weeks of compassion or reappraisal training. We measured BOLD fMRI responses before and after training while participants actively engaged in their assigned training to images depicting human suffering or non-suffering. Eye-tracking data were recorded concurrently, and we computed looking time for socially and emotionally evocative areas of the images, and calculated visual preference for suffering vs. non-suffering. Increases in visual preference for suffering due to compassion training were associated with decreases in the amygdala, a brain region involved in negative valence, arousal, and physiological responses typical of fear and anxiety states. This pattern was specifically in the compassion group, and was not found in the reappraisal group. In addition, compassion training-related increases in visual preference for suffering were also associated with decreases in regions sensitive to valence and empathic distress, spanning the anterior insula and orbitofrontal cortex (while the reappraisal group showed the opposite effect). Examining visual attention alone demonstrated that engaging in compassion in general (across both time points) resulted in visual attention preference for suffering compared to engaging in reappraisal. Collectively, these findings suggest that compassion meditation may cultivate visual preference for suffering while attenuating neural responses in regions typically associated with aversive processing of negative stimuli, which may cultivate a more equanimous and nonreactive form of attention to stimuli of suffering.

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So more 'empathy fatigue' than 'compassion fatigue' as a risk for health-care professionals?

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Psychedelics, Meditation, and Self-Consciousness.

Psychedelics, Meditation, and Self-Consciousness. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) In recent years, the scientific study of meditation and psychedelic drugs has seen remarkable developments. The increased focus on meditation in cognitive neuroscience has led to a cross-cultural classification of standard meditation styles validated by functional and structural neuroanatomical data. Meanwhile, the renaissance of psychedelic research has shed light on the neurophysiology of altered states of consciousness induced by classical psychedelics, such as psilocybin and LSD, whose effects are mainly mediated by agonism of serotonin receptors. Few attempts have been made at bridging these two domains of inquiry, despite intriguing evidence of overlap between the phenomenology and neurophysiology of meditation practice and psychedelic states. In particular, many contemplative traditions explicitly aim at dissolving the sense of self by eliciting altered states of consciousness through meditation, while classical psychedelics are known to produce significant disruptions of self-consciousness, a phenomenon known as drug-induced ego dissolution. In this article, we discuss available evidence regarding convergences and differences between phenomenological and neurophysiological data on meditation practice and psychedelic drug-induced states, with a particular emphasis on alterations of self-experience. While both meditation and psychedelics may disrupt self-consciousness and underlying neural processes, we emphasize that neither meditation nor psychedelic states can be conceived as simple, uniform categories. Moreover, we suggest that there are important phenomenological differences even between conscious states described as experiences of self-loss. As a result, we propose that self-consciousness may be best construed as a multidimensional construct, and that "self-loss," far from being an unequivocal phenomenon, can take several forms. Indeed, various aspects of self-consciousness, including narrative aspects linked to autobiographical memory, self-related thoughts and mental time travel, and embodied aspects rooted in multisensory processes, may be differently affected by psychedelics and meditation practices. Finally, we consider long-term outcomes of experiences of self-loss induced by meditation and psychedelics on individual traits and prosocial behavior. We call for caution regarding the problematic conflation of temporary states of self-loss with "selflessness" as a behavioral or social trait, although there is preliminary evidence that correlations between short-term experiences of self-loss and long-term trait alterations may exist.

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Effect of meditation on psychological distress and brain functioning: A randomized controlled study.

Effect of meditation on psychological distress and brain functioning: A randomized controlled study. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Background Psychological stability and brain integration are important factors related to physical and mental health and organization effectiveness. This study tested whether a mind-body technique, the Transcendental Meditation (TM) program could increase EEG brain integration and positive affect, and decrease psychological distress in government employees. Method Ninety-six central office administrators and staff at the San Francisco Unified School District were randomly assigned to either immediate start of the TM program or to a wait-list control group. At baseline and four-month posttest, participants completed an online version of the Profile of Mood States questionnaire (POMS). In addition, a subset of this population (N = 79) had their EEG recorded at baseline and at four-month posttest to calculate Brain Integration Scale (BIS) scores. Results At posttest, TM participants significantly decreased on the POMS Total Mood Disturbance and anxiety, anger, depression, fatigue, and confusion subscales, and significantly increased in the POMS vigor subscale. TM participants in the EEG-subgroup also significantly increased in BIS scores. Compliance with meditation practice was high (93%). Conclusion Findings indicate the feasibility and effectiveness of implementing the TM program to improve brain integration and positive affect and reduce psychological distress in government administrators and staff.

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Daily Ups and Downs: An Event-Sampling Study of the Mediated Moderation of Prosocial Engagement on Well-Being. 

Numerous studies have shown that acting prosocially promotes the altruist’s well-being. What has been less clear, however, is when the effect is the strongest and what mechanism is behind the well-being benefits of prosocial action. We asked a community sample (N = 383) to record their prosocial engagement, well-being levels, and autonomy, relatedness, and competence 4 times daily for 2 weeks using an app-based event-sampling method. We found that only one’s competence—and neither autonomy nor relatedness—at one time point (t − 1) moderated the effect of prosocial engagement on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being at a subsequent time point (t). Specifically, when participants reported lower competence levels at t − 1, the relationship between acting prosocially and well-being was stronger at t. We further demonstrated that this interaction was mediated by competence levels at t.

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Research Review: The effects of mindfulness‐based interventions on cognition and mental health in children and adolescents – a meta‐analysis of randomized controlled trials.

(Available in free full text) Background Mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) are an increasingly popular way of attempting to improve the behavioural, cognitive and mental health outcomes of children and adolescents, though there is a suggestion that enthusiasm has moved ahead of the evidence base. Most evaluations of MBIs are either uncontrolled or nonrandomized trials. This meta-analysis aims to establish the efficacy of MBIs for children and adolescents in studies that have adopted a randomized, controlled trial (RCT) design. Methods A systematic literature search of RCTs of MBIs was conducted up to October 2017. Thirty-three independent studies including 3,666 children and adolescents were included in random effects meta-analyses with outcome measures categorized into cognitive, behavioural and emotional factors. Separate random effects meta-analyses were completed for the seventeen studies (n = 1,762) that used an RCT design with an active control condition. Results Across all RCTs we found significant positive effects of MBIs, relative to controls, for the outcome categories of Mindfulness, Executive Functioning, Attention, Depression, Anxiety/Stress and Negative Behaviours, with small effect sizes (Cohen's d), ranging from .16 to .30. However, when considering only those RCTs with active control groups, significant benefits of an MBI were restricted to the outcomes of Mindfulness (d = .42), Depression (d = .47) and Anxiety/Stress (d = .18) only. Conclusions This meta-analysis reinforces the efficacy of using MBIs for improving the mental health and wellbeing of youth as assessed using the gold standard RCT methodology. Future RCT evaluations should incorporate scaled-up definitive trial designs to further evaluate the robustness of MBIs in youth, with an embedded focus on mechanisms of action.

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The Liking Gap in Conversations: Do People Like Us More Than We Think?

Having conversations with new people is an important and rewarding part of social life. Yet conversations can also be intimidating and anxiety provoking, and this makes people wonder and worry about what their conversation partners really think of them. Are people accurate in their estimates? We found that following interactions, people systematically underestimated how much their conversation partners liked them and enjoyed their company, an illusion we call the liking gap. We observed the liking gap as strangers got acquainted in the laboratory, as first-year college students got to know their dorm mates, and as formerly unacquainted members of the general public got to know each other during a personal development workshop. The liking gap persisted in conversations of varying lengths and even lasted for several months, as college dorm mates developed new relationships. Our studies suggest that after people have conversations, they are liked more than they know.

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Effects of repeated attachment security priming in outpatients with primary depressive disorders.

Effects of repeated attachment security priming in outpatients with primary depressive disorders. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Background The aim of this study was to assess the potential effectiveness of secure attachment priming in outpatients with depressive disorders. Methods Forty-eight participants engaged in secure attachment priming or neutral priming in the laboratory (Time 1), after which they received three daily consecutive primes via text message (Times 2–4), aimed at maintaining the effects from Time 1. A follow-up one day later (Time 5) was also included. Dependent measures were assessed at Times 1, 4 and 5. Results Participants in the secure attachment priming condition experienced higher felt-security than the control group at all time-points, indicating that the felt-security benefit was maintained through repeated priming. Secure priming had a greater impact on reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in comparison to the control prime, though the differences were only significant at Time 4. Limitations The moderate sample size limited our statistical power. Conclusions This study was the first experiment using repeated secure attachment priming within a clinical sample. Our findings have potential clinical implications; security priming could be used alongside other treatments to improve outcome. Recommendations for further research are discussed.

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The Impact of Body Awareness on Women’s Sexual Health: A Comprehensive Review.

The Impact of Body Awareness on Women’s Sexual Health: A Comprehensive Review. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

INTRODUCTION: Body awareness has been linked to female sexual response in laboratory manipulation studies and is used in clinical settings to ameliorate sexual difficulties. AIM: To evaluate and review the literature on body awareness and female sexual function. METHODS: A literature review was conducted through PsycInfo, PsycARTICLES, and PubMed using terms such as body awareness and sexual function. A manual search also was conducted using reference lists. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Studies were included if manipulated body awareness was a main variable of interest and if outcome variables included female sexual functioning or sexual response. RESULTS: 29 studies were included in this review and grouped into 3 categories: sensate focus (n = 7), mindfulness (n = 13), and laboratory manipulations of body awareness (n = 9). Body awareness is identified as an area of importance for female sexuality. Explicit instructions aimed at increasing body awareness, including those used in the clinical techniques of sensate focus and mindfulness, appear to enhance sexual response for many women, including women with low sexual arousal, hypoactive desire, anorgasmia, and sexual pain and in non-clinical samples. Induction of implicit body awareness also resulted in increased arousal in 1 study. CONCLUSION: Body awareness appears to enhance sexual well-being for some women. This is supported by laboratory manipulation studies conducted on women with and without sexual difficulties and by intervention studies using sensate focus and mindfulness for women with a range of sexual problems. The extent to which enhanced body awareness accounts for results in intervention studies is often unclear because of other features of the interventions and/or study design. This review provides the field with a summary of intervention and laboratory studies on body awareness, with results pointing toward body awareness as an integral component of treatment for sexual dysfunction.

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Everyday prosociality in the workplace: The reinforcing benefits of giving, getting, and glimpsing.

A functional analysis of prosociality considers how predispositions for prosocial behavior prompt, reinforce, and propagate kind behaviors in the real world. To examine the effects of practicing, receiving, and observing everyday prosociality-as well as the mechanisms underlying these effects-we randomly assigned employees in a Spanish corporate workplace (N = 111) to be Givers, Receivers, and Controls. Givers practiced 5 acts of kindness for a personalized list of Receivers over 4 weeks. We found that Givers and Receivers mutually benefited in well-being in both the short-term (e.g., on weekly measures of competence and autonomy) and the long-term (e.g., Receivers became happier after 2 months, and Givers became less depressed and more satisfied with their lives and jobs). In addition, Givers' prosocial acts inspired others to act: Receivers paid their acts of kindness forward with 278% more prosocial behaviors than Controls. Our results reveal that practicing everyday prosociality is both emotionally reinforcing and contagious (inspiring kindness and generating hedonic rewards in others) and that receiving everyday prosociality is an unequivocally positive experience (which may further reinforce Givers' actions). Prosociality's benefits shed light on its surprising ubiquity in humanity compared with our closest evolutionary cousins.

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Religion as an Exchange System: The Interchangeability of God and Government in a Provider Role

An exchange model of religion implies that if a secular entity such as government provides what people need, they will be less likely to seek help from supernatural entities. Controlling for quality of life and income inequality (Gini), we found that better government services were related to lower religiosity among countries (Study 1) and states in the United States (Study 2). Study 2 also showed that during 2008-2013, better government services in a specific year predicted lower religiosity 1 to 2 years later. In both studies, a combination of better government services and quality of life was related to a particularly low level of religiosity. Among countries, government services moderated the relation between religiosity and two measures of well-being, such that religiosity was related to greater well-being only when government services were low. We discuss the relation between the exchange model and other theoretical approaches to religion.

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Is it good to cooperate? Testing the theory of morality-as-cooperation in 60 societies

Is it good to cooperate? Testing the theory of morality-as-cooperation in 60 societies | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Description: What is morality? And to what extent does it vary around the world? The theory of ‘morality-as-cooperation’ argues that morality consists of a collection of biological and cultural solutions to the problems of cooperation recurrent in human social life. Morality-as-cooperation draws on the theory of nonzerosum games to identify distinct problems of cooperation and their solutions, and predicts that specific forms of cooperative behaviour – including helping kin, helping your group, reciprocating, being brave, deferring to superiors, dividing disputed resources, and respecting prior possession – will be considered morally good wherever they arise, in all cultures. In order to test these predictions, we investigate the moral valence of these seven cooperative behaviours in the ethnographic records of 60 societies. We find that the moral valence of these behaviours is uniformly positive, and the majority of these cooperative morals are observed in the majority of cultures, with equal frequency across all regions of the world. We conclude that these seven cooperative behaviours are plausible candidates for universal moral rules, and that morality-as-cooperation could provide the unified theory of morality that anthropology has hitherto lacked.

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Self-Compassion Mediates Improvement in Well-being in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program in a Community-Based Sample.

Self-Compassion Mediates Improvement in Well-being in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program in a Community-Based Sample. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Numerous studies have found mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) to be useful for a range of problems including anxiety, pain, and coping with a medical illness. As the field matures, there is a growing interest in mediational factors associated with the beneficial effects of MBSR. Self-compassion is a construct of increasing focus in empirical study and may play a role in the change process leading to improvement in well-being through MBSR. The primary goal of this pilot study was to examine the role of self-compassion in producing improved well-being following an 8-week MBSR program with a community-based sample. Participants engaged in a MBSR program at a major academic medical center and completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS), Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), and the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) pre- and post-MBSR course. Results demonstrated significant reduction of symptoms on the POMS and significant increases on the MAAS and SCS at the end of the program, indicating notable improvements in well-being. Mediation analyses demonstrated that changes in self-compassion mediated the relationship between mindfulness and well-being following MBSR training (serial indirect effects; β = − 9.45, CI (− 39.06, − 7.50)). These results suggest that mindfulness may provide a pathway to cultivating self-compassion in MBSR, which may be associated with enhanced well-being.

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Economic Inequality Enhances Inferences that the Normative Climate is Individualistic and Competitive.

Abstract In addition to the negative effects of economic inequality on a range of health and social outcomes, we propose that inequality should also affect how people perceive the broader normative climate in society. We predicted that people living in a more unequal (versus equal) society are more likely to appraise the social context as one where individualism determines people's behaviour. We tested this idea in three experiments by manipulating the degree of economic inequality in a fictional society. We show that, compared to the low inequality condition, participants in the high inequality condition were more likely to project individualistic norms onto society. Furthermore, Experiments 2 and 3 showed that in the high (vs. low) economic inequality condition, participants inferred more competition and less cooperation between people. Our results are discussed in light of the importance of the perception of a broader normative climate to explain the consequences of economic inequality.

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Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention.

Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text)  Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a six-week web-based mindful self-compassion program on stress and burnout symptoms in a group of helping professionals. Method: In a randomized controlled trial 101 practicing psychologists were assigned to a training group (n = 51) and a wait-list control group (n = 49). The training program involved 15 min exercises per day, six days a week, for six weeks. The participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) pre and post intervention. Results: Eighty-one participants (n = 40 in the training group, n = 41 in the control group) took part in the pre and post assessments. Selective gains for the intervention group were observed for SCS total score (d = 0.86; d = .94 for the self-compassion scale). Levels of self-coldness were reduced following the training and mindfulness scores increased (d = 0.60). Most important, levels of perceived stress (d = .59) and burnout symptoms (d = .44 for SMBQ total, mental aspects in particular) were lower post intervention. The results largely confirmed the hypothesis that the measures of distress would be more strongly related to self-coldness than self-compassion, a pattern seen in cross-sectional analyses and longitudinal analyses, at least for burnout. Conclusions: The mindful self-compassion program appeared effective to increase self-compassion/reduce self-coldness, and to alleviate stress and symptoms of burnout in the study sample. Additional studies, preferably three-armed RCTs with long-term follow-up, are warranted to further evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

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The relationships of classic psychedelic use with criminal behavior in the United States adult population.

Criminal behavior exacts a large toll on society and is resistant to intervention. Some evidence suggests classic psychedelics may inhibit criminal behavior, but the extent of these effects has not been comprehensively explored. In this study, we tested the relationships of classic psychedelic use and psilocybin use per se with criminal behavior among over 480,000 United States adult respondents pooled from the last 13 available years of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2002 through 2014) while controlling for numerous covariates. Lifetime classic psychedelic use was associated with a reduced odds of past year larceny/theft (aOR = 0.73 (0.65–0.83)), past year assault (aOR = 0.88 (0.80–0.97)), past year arrest for a property crime (aOR = 0.78 (0.65–0.95)), and past year arrest for a violent crime (aOR = 0.82 (0.70–0.97)). In contrast, lifetime illicit use of other drugs was, by and large, associated with an increased odds of these outcomes. Lifetime classic psychedelic use, like lifetime illicit use of almost all other substances, was associated with an increased odds of past year drug distribution. Results were consistent with a protective effect of psilocybin for antisocial criminal behavior. These findings contribute to a compelling rationale for the initiation of clinical research with classic psychedelics, including psilocybin, in forensic settings.

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Non-trauma-focused meditation versus exposure therapy in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder: a randomised controlled trial.

Non-trauma-focused meditation versus exposure therapy in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder: a randomised controlled trial. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Summary Background Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex and difficult-to-treat disorder, affecting 10–20% of military veterans. Previous research has raised the question of whether a non-trauma-focused treatment can be as effective as trauma exposure therapy in reducing PTSD symptoms. This study aimed to compare the non-trauma-focused practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) with prolonged exposure therapy (PE) in a non-inferiority clinical trial, and to compare both therapies with a control of PTSD health education (HE). Methods We did a randomised controlled trial at the Department of Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System in CA, USA. We included 203 veterans with a current diagnosis of PTSD resulting from active military service randomly assigned to a TM or PE group, or an active control group of HE, using stratified block randomisation. Each treatment provided 12 sessions over 12 weeks, with daily home practice. TM and HE were mainly given in a group setting and PE was given individually. The primary outcome was change in PTSD symptom severity over 3 months, assessed by the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Analysis was by intention to treat. We hypothesised that TM would show non-inferiority to PE in improvement of CAPS score (Δ=10), with TM and PE superior to PTSD HE. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01865123. Findings Between June 10, 2013, and Oct 7, 2016, 203 veterans were randomly assigned to an intervention group (68 to the TM group, 68 to the PE group, and 67 to the PTSD HE group). TM was significantly non-inferior to PE on change in CAPS score from baseline to 3-month post-test (difference between groups in mean change −5·9, 95% CI −14·3 to 2·4, p=0·0002). In standard superiority comparisons, significant reductions in CAPS scores were found for TM versus PTSD HE (–14·6 95% CI, −23·3 to −5·9, p=0·0009), and PE versus PTSD HE (–8·7 95% CI, −17·0 to −0·32, p=0·041). 61% of those receiving TM, 42% of those receiving PE, and 32% of those receiving HE showed clinically significant improvements on the CAPS score. Interpretation A non-trauma-focused-therapy, TM, might be a viable option for decreasing the severity of PTSD symptoms in veterans and represents an efficacious alternative for veterans who prefer not to receive or who do not respond to traditional exposure-based treatments of PTSD.

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Culture and social hierarchy: Self- and other-oriented correlates of socioeconomic status across cultures.

Current theorizing on socioeconomic status (SES) focuses on the availability of resources and the freedom they afford as a key determinant of the association between high SES and stronger orientation toward the self and, by implication, weaker orientation toward others. However, this work relies nearly exclusively on data from Western countries where self-orientation is strongly sanctioned. In the present work, we predicted and found that especially in East Asian countries, where other-orientation is strongly sanctioned, high SES is associated with stronger other-orientation as well as with self-orientation. We first examined both psychological attributes (Study 1, N = 2,832) and socialization values (Study 2a, N = 4,675) in Japan and the United States. In line with the existent evidence, SES was associated with greater self-oriented psychological attributes and socialization values in both the U.S. and Japan. Importantly, however, higher SES was associated with greater other orientation in Japan, whereas this association was weaker or even reversed in the United States. Study 2b (N = 85,296) indicated that the positive association between SES and self-orientation is found, overall, across 60 nations. Further, Study 2b showed that the positive association between SES and other-orientation in Japan can be generalized to other Confucian cultures, whereas the negative association between SES and other-orientation in the U.S. can be generalized to other Frontier cultures. Implications of the current findings for modernization and globalization are discussed.

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Receiving a hug is associated with the attenuation of negative mood that occurs on days with interpersonal conflict.

Receiving a hug is associated with the attenuation of negative mood that occurs on days with interpersonal conflict. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) Interpersonal touch is emerging as an important topic in the study of adult relationships, with recent research showing that such behaviors can promote better relationship functioning and individual well-being. This investigation considers whether being hugged is associated with reduced conflict-related decreases in positive affect and increases in negative affect as well as whether these associations differ between women and men. A sample of 404 adults were interviewed every night for 14 consecutive days about their conflicts, hug receipt, and positive and negative affect. Results indicated that there was an interaction between hug receipt and conflict exposure such that receiving a hug was associated with a smaller conflict-related decrease in positive affect and a smaller conflict-related increase in negative affect when assessed concurrently. Hug receipt was also prospectively associated with a smaller conflict-related increase in next day negative affect but was not associated with next day positive affect. Associations between hug receipt and conflict-related changes in affect did not differ between women and men, between individuals who were married or in a marital-like relationship and those who were not, or as a function of individual differences in baseline perceived social support. While correlational, these results are consistent with the hypothesis that hugs buffer against deleterious changes in affect associated with experiencing interpersonal conflict. Possible mechanisms through which hugs facilitate positive adaptation to conflict are discussed.

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Compassion and Loving-Kindness Meditation: An Overview and Prospects for the Application in Clinical Samples.

Compassion and Loving-Kindness Meditation: An Overview and Prospects for the Application in Clinical Samples. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Objectives This article presents a brief overview of the empirical evidence of well-established mindfulness interventions and an in-depth review of less-established compassion-based interventions (CBIs) and loving-kindness meditation (LKM). Definitions, cognitive and physiological mechanisms, and methods of assessment are discussed. Method A literature review using the databases Google Scholar, PsycINFO, and PubMed was conducted. Results Whereas the efficacy of mindfulness-based stress reduction and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has been documented in many trials, only seven randomized, controlled trials have been completed on CBIs and LKM. In these trials, CBIs were effective in treating psychotic disorders, affective disorders with psychotic features, major depressive disorder, eating disorders, and patients with suicide attempts in the past year; LKM was effective in treating chronic pain; and a combination of both was effective for borderline personality disorder. A larger number of nonrandomized studies indicate that CBIs and LKM may be effective in treating a wide range of clinical conditions, including depression, anxiety disorders, chronic pain, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Conclusions Further studies are needed to confirm the promising effects of CBIs and LKM. Preliminary evidence suggests that both approaches might be beneficial across various clinical populations. Future studies need to clarify whether these approaches might be options as stand-alone treatments or as adjuncts or augmentation of evidence-based methods in psychotherapy.

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Experiencing meditation – Evidence for differential effects of three contemplative mental practices in micro-phenomenological interviews.

Experiencing meditation – Evidence for differential effects of three contemplative mental practices in micro-phenomenological interviews. | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Despite increasing interest in effects of meditation, systematic in-depth research on how it qualitatively feels to engage in different kinds of contemplative practices is still missing. To fill this gap, we explore the validity of Micro-phenomenological Interviews (MpI) to assess experiences during breathing meditation (BM), observing-thought meditation (OTM), and loving-kindness meditation (LKM). We performed psycholinguistic analyses, quantitative ratings and qualitative explorations of 104 MpI (N = 57). All results reveal differential affective, bodily and sensorial fingerprints: BM-transcripts contain the most body-related vocabulary, specifically sensations in nose and abdomen. OTM-transcripts contain the most cognition-related vocabulary. OTM is experienced in head and face. LKM-transcripts contain the most vocabulary related to socio-affective processes. LKM is associated to love, sensations around the heart, and warmth. The LKM-outcomes were replicated with another independent set of MpI. These findings verify the merit of MpI as a scientific tool to gain reliable first-person data beyond questionnaires or rating scales.

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Processes of change in a school-based mindfulness programme: cognitive reactivity and self-coldness as mediators.

The underlying mechanisms of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions for emotional well-being remain poorly understood. Here, we examined the potential mediating effects of cognitive reactivity and self-compassion on symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress using data from an earlier randomised controlled school trial. A moderated time-lagged mediation model based on multilevel modelling was used to analyse the data. The findings showed that post-treatment changes in cognitive reactivity and self-coldness, an aspect of self-compassion, mediated subsequent changes in symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. These results suggest that cognitive reactivity and self-coldness may be considered as transdiagnostic mechanisms of change of a mindfulness-based intervention programme for youth.

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Developing the Good Physician: Spirituality affects the development of virtues and moral intuitions in medical students.

The Project on the Good Physician is a national longitudinal study of moral and professional formation of American physicians over the course of medical training. The purpose of this paper is to examine the processes by which spirituality influences the development of three virtues (mindfulness, empathic compassion, and generosity) in medical students as mediated by the moral intuition to care/harm, as well as make predictions as to how this type of study could be generalizable to other populations. Study participants were 563 medical students recruited by the University of Chicago from 24 medical schools across the U.S. (54.7% male, 57% white) who completed measures assessing virtue formation 9 months apart. Path analysis of a cascade model showed that spirituality (but not religiousness) was directly and indirectly related to change in the virtue empathic compassion, and also indirectly related to change in the virtue generosity. Moreover, the moral intuition to care/harm partially mediated the association between spirituality and the virtues of empathic compassion and generosity (but not mindfulness).

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Pathways to happiness are multidirectional: Associations between state mindfulness and everyday affective experience.

Mindfulness is commonly defined as a multidimensional mode of being attentive to, and aware of, momentary experiences while taking a nonjudgmental and accepting stance. These qualities have been linked to 2 different facets of affective well-being: being attentive is proposed to lead to an appreciation of experiences as they are, and thus to positive affect (PA). Accepting unpleasant experiences in a nonjudgmental fashion has been hypothesized to reduce negative affect (NA). Alternatively, however, attention may increase both positive and negative affectivity, whereas nonjudgmental acceptance may modify how people relate to their experiences. Previous research has considered such differential associations at the trait level, although a mindful mode may be understood as a state of being. Using an experience-sampling methodology (ESM) with smartphones, the present research therefore links different state mindfulness facets to positive and NA in daily life. Seventy students (50% female, 20-30 years old) of different disciplines participated in the study. Based on multidimensional assessments of self-reported state mindfulness and state affect, the findings corroborate the hypotheses on the differential predictive value of 2 mindfulness facets: Participants experienced more PA when they were attentive to the present moment and less NA when they nonjudgmentally accepted momentary experiences. Furthermore, only nonjudgmental acceptance buffered the impact of daily hassles on affective well-being. The study contributes to a more fine-grained understanding of the within-person mechanisms relating mindfulness to affective well-being in daily life. Future interventions may be able to enhance different aspects of affective well-being by addressing specific facets of mindfulness.

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