Compassion & Mindfulness Research
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A dark side of "niceness" - increased obedience to toxic authority

A dark side of "niceness" - increased obedience to toxic authority | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

This study investigates how obedience in a Milgram-like experiment is predicted by interindividual differences. Participants were 35 males and 31 females aged 26–54 from the general population who were contacted by phone 8 months after their participation in a study transposing Milgram's obedience paradigm to the context of a fake television game show. Interviews were presented as opinion polls with no stated ties to the earlier experiment. Personality was assessed by the Big Five Mini-Markers questionnaire (Saucier, 1994). Political orientation and social activism were also measured. Results confirmed hypotheses that Conscientiousness and Agreeableness would be associated with willingness to administer higher-intensity electric shocks to a victim. Political orientation and social activism were also related to obedience. Our results provide empirical evidence suggesting that individual differences in personality and political variables matter in the explanation of obedience to authority.

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Another reason why it's important to be able to be assertive when a situation calls for it ...

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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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'Start with values?!'

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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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The psychology of social class: How socioeconomic status impacts thought, feelings, and behaviour

(Available in free full text) Drawing on recent research on the psychology of social class, I argue that the material conditions in which people grow up and live have a lasting impact on their personal and social identities and that this influences both the way they think and feel about their social environment and key aspects of their social behaviour. Relative to middle‐class counterparts, lower/working‐class individuals are less likely to define themselves in terms of their socioeconomic status and are more likely to have interdependent self‐concepts; they are also more inclined to explain social events in situational terms, as a result of having a lower sense of personal control. Working‐class people score higher on measures of empathy and are more likely to help others in distress. The widely held view that working‐class individuals are more prejudiced towards immigrants and ethnic minorities is shown to be a function of economic threat, in that highly educated people also express prejudice towards these groups when the latter are described as highly educated and therefore pose an economic threat. The fact that middle‐class norms of independence prevail in universities and prestigious workplaces makes working‐class people less likely to apply for positions in such institutions, less likely to be selected and less likely to stay if selected. In other words, social class differences in identity, cognition, feelings, and behaviour make it less likely that working‐class individuals can benefit from educational and occupational opportunities to improve their material circumstances. This means that redistributive policies are needed to break the cycle of deprivation that limits opportunities and threatens social cohesion.

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Psychopathy to Altruism: Neurobiology of the Selfish–Selfless Spectrum

Psychopathy to Altruism: Neurobiology of the Selfish–Selfless Spectrum | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) The age-old philosophical, biological and social debate over the basic nature of humans as being “universally selfish” or “universally good” continues today highlighting sharply divergent views of natural social order. Here we analyze advances in biology, genetics and neuroscience increasing our understanding of the evolution, features and neurocircuitry of the human brain underlying behavior in the selfish-selfless spectrum. First, we examine evolutionary pressures for selection of altruistic traits in species with protracted periods of dependence on parents and communities for subsistence and acquisition of learned behaviors. Evidence supporting the concept that altruistic potential is a common feature in human populations is developed. To go into greater depth in assessing critical features of the social brain, the two extremes of selfish-selfless behavior, callous unemotional psychopaths and zealous altruists who take extreme measures to help others, are compared on behavioral traits, structural/functional neural features, and the relative contributions of genetic inheritance versus acquired cognitive learning to their mindsets. Evidence from population groups ranging from newborns, adopted children, incarcerated juveniles, twins and mindfulness meditators point to the important role of neuroplasticity and the dopaminergic reward systems in forming and reforming neural circuitry in response to personal experience and cultural influences in determining behavior in the selfish-selfless spectrum. The underlying neural circuitry differs between psychopaths and altruists with emotional processing being profoundly muted in psychopaths and significantly enhanced in altruists. But both groups are characterized by the reward system of the brain shaping behavior. Instead of rigid assignment of human nature as being “universally selfish” or “universally good”, both characterizations are partial truths based on the segments of the selfish-selfless spectrum being examined. In addition, individuals and populations can shift in the behavioral spectrum in response to cognitive therapy and social and cultural experience, and approaches such as mindfulness training for introspection and reward-activating compassion are entering the mainstream of clinical care for managing pain, depression, and stress.

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Compassion-focused therapy as guided self-help for enhancing public mental health: A randomized controlled trial

Objective: Despite promising results for compassion-focused therapy (CFT) as self-help, larger-scale trials including long-term follow-up data are needed to establish its effectiveness in the context of public mental health. Empirical evidence supporting its effectiveness in improving well-being is lacking. In a randomized controlled trial, the effects of CFT as guided self-help on well-being were evaluated. Method: Adults (mean age = 52.87, SD = 9.99, 74.8% female) with low to moderate levels of well-being were recruited in the Dutch population and randomized to CFT (n = 120) or a waitlist control group (n = 122). Participants completed the Mental Health Continuum–Short Form (well-being), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (depression and anxiety), Perceived Stress Scale (stress), Self-Compassion Scale–Short Form (self-compassion), Forms of Self-Criticizing/Attacking and Reassurance Scale (self-criticism and self-reassurance), Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (positive/negative affect), and Gratitude questionnaire (gratitude) at baseline, postintervention (3 months), 3- and 9-month follow-up. Results: Compared with the waitlist control group, the CFT group showed superior improvement on well-being at postintervention, d = .51, 95% CI [.25, .77], p < .001, and 3-month follow-up, d = .39, 95% CI [.13, .65], p < .001. No significant moderators were found. On all secondary outcome measures but positive affect, the intervention group showed significantly greater improvements up to 3-month follow-up. At 9-month follow-up, improvements on all measures were retained or amplified among CFT participants. Conclusions: CFT as guided self-help shows promise as a public mental health strategy for enhancing well-being and reducing psychological distress.

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Effects of brief mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation inductions on emotional and behavioral responses to social rejection among individuals with high borderline personality traits

Effects of brief mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation inductions on emotional and behavioral responses to social rejection among individuals with high borderline personality traits | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized by an enduring pattern of instability across affective, behavioral, cognitive, and interpersonal domains. Individuals with BPD are known to be particularly vulnerable to experiences of social rejection, but little work has examined strategies that may moderate their reactivity to social rejection. Using a laboratory experimental approach, this study investigated the effects of brief mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation (LKM) inductions on emotional and behavioral responses to social rejection in a sample of adults with high BPD traits. One hundred and eighteen participants were randomly assigned to receive 10 min of mindful breathing practice, LKM, or a no-instruction control condition, prior to exposure to a social rejection manipulation. Participants rated their emotions and completed a competitive reaction time task, which provided a proxy measure of aggression. Compared to the control condition, the mindfulness group demonstrated significantly quicker recovery in negative affect and feelings of rejection after social rejection. The mindfulness group also reported significantly quicker recovery in negative affect compared to the LKM group. Whereas baseline trait mindfulness negatively predicted aggressive behaviors across all participants, groups did not differ in immediate emotional reactivity or aggressive behavior following social rejection. The findings suggest that mindfulness training may be a promising strategy in alleviating negative emotional effects of social rejection among individuals with high borderline personality traits, and highlight the limited utility of brief LKM practice in buffering the effects of social rejection.

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Death and the Self

Death and the Self | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

It is an old philosophical idea that if the future self is literally different from the current self, one should be less concerned with the death of the future self (Parfit, ). This paper examines the relation between attitudes about death and the self among Hindus, Westerners, and three Buddhist populations (Lay Tibetan, Lay Bhutanese, and monastic Tibetans). Compared with other groups, monastic Tibetans gave particularly strong denials of the continuity of self, across several measures. We predicted that the denial of self would be associated with a lower fear of death and greater generosity toward others. To our surprise, we found the opposite. Monastic Tibetan Buddhists showed significantly greater fear of death than any other group. The monastics were also less generous than any other group about the prospect of giving up a slightly longer life in order to extend the life of another.  [See interesting discussion in BPS Digest - https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/02/02/is-death-still-frightening-if-you-believe-the-self-is-an-illusion-an-astonishing-study-of-tibetan-buddhists/ ].

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Social class and wise reasoning about interpersonal conflicts across regions, persons and situations

Social class and wise reasoning about interpersonal conflicts across regions, persons and situations | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it
We propose that class is inversely related to a propensity for using wise reasoning (recognizing limits of their knowledge, consider world in flux and change, acknowledges and integrate different perspectives) in interpersonal situations, contrary to established class advantage in abstract cognition. Two studies—an online survey from regions differing in economic affluence ( n = 2 145) and a representative in-lab study with stratified sampling of adults from working and middle-class backgrounds ( n = 299)—tested this proposition, indicating that higher social class consistently related to lower levels of wise reasoning across different levels of analysis, including regional and individual differences, and subjective construal of specific situations. The results held across personal and standardized hypothetical situations, across self-reported and observed wise reasoning, and when controlling for fluid and crystallized cognitive abilities. Consistent with an ecological framework, class differences in wise reasoning were specific to interpersonal (versus societal) conflicts. These findings suggest that higher social class weighs individuals down by providing the ecological constraints that undermine wise reasoning about interpersonal affairs.
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The Cultivation of Pure Altruism via Gratitude: A Functional MRI Study of Change with Gratitude Practice

The Cultivation of Pure Altruism via Gratitude: A Functional MRI Study of Change with Gratitude Practice | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it
Gratitude is an emotion and a trait linked to well-being and better health, and welcoming benefits to oneself is instrumentally valuable. However, theoretical and empirical work highlights that gratitude is more fully understood as an intrinsically valuable moral emotion. To understand the role of neural reward systems in the association between gratitude and altruistic motivations we tested two hypotheses: First, whether self-reported propensity toward gratitude relates to fMRI-derived indicators of “pure altruism,” operationalized as the neural valuation of passive, private transfers to a charity versus to oneself. In young adult female participants, self-reported gratitude and altruism were associated with “neural pure altruism” in ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC) and nucleus accumbens. Second, whether neural pure altruism can be increased through practicing gratitude. In a double-blind study, we randomly assigned participants to either a gratitude-journal or active-neutral control journal group for three weeks. Relative to pre-test levels, gratitude-journaling increased the neural pure altruism response in the VMPFC. We posit that as a context-dependent value-sensitive cortical region, the VMPFC supports change with gratitude practice, a change that is larger for benefits to others versus oneself.
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Reciprocal Influences Between Loneliness and Self-Centeredness: A Cross-Lagged Panel Analysis in a Population-Based Sample of African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian Adults

Loneliness has been posited to increase the motivation to repair or replace deficient social relationships and, seemingly paradoxically, to increase the implicit motivation for self-preservation. In the current research, we report a cross-lagged panel analysis of 10 waves of longitudinal data (N = 229) on loneliness and self-centeredness (as gauged by Feeney and Collins’s measure of chronic self-focus) in a representative sample of middle-aged and older adults. As predicted by the proposition that loneliness increases the implicit motivation for self-preservation, loneliness in the current year predicts self-centeredness in the subsequent year beyond what is explained by current-year demographic variables, self-centeredness, depressive symptomatology, and overall negative mood. Analyses also show that self-centeredness in the current year (net covariates) predicts loneliness in the subsequent year, a reciprocal relationship that could potentially contribute to the maintenance of loneliness. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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An Attachment-Based Model of the Relationship Between Childhood Adversity & Somatization in Children & Adults

An Attachment-Based Model of the Relationship Between Childhood Adversity & Somatization in Children & Adults | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Objective: An attachment model was used to understand how maternal sensitivity and adverse childhood experiences are related to somatization. Methods: We examined maternal sensitivity at 6 and 18 months and somatization at 5 years in 292 children in a longitudinal cohort study. We next examined attachment insecurity and somatization (health anxiety, physical symptoms) in four adult cohorts: healthy primary care patients (AC1, n = 67), ulcerative colitis in remission (AC2, n = 100), hospital workers (AC3, n = 157), and paramedics (AC4, n = 188). Recall of childhood adversity was measured in AC3 and AC4. Attachment insecurity was tested as a possible mediator between childhood adversity and somatization in AC3 and AC4. Results: In children, there was a significant negative relationship between maternal sensitivity at 18 months and somatization at age 5 years (B = −3.52, standard error = 1.16, t = −3.02, p = .003), whereas maternal sensitivity at 6 months had no significant relationship. In adults, there were consistent, significant relationships between attachment insecurity and somatization, with the strongest findings for attachment anxiety and health anxiety (AC1, β = 0.51; AC2, β = 0.43). There was a significant indirect effect of childhood adversity on physical symptoms mediated by attachment anxiety in AC3 and AC4. Conclusions: Deficits in maternal sensitivity at 18 months of age are related to the emergence of somatization by age 5 years. Adult attachment insecurity is related to somatization. Insecure attachment may partially mediate the relationship between early adversity and somatization.

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Coordinating bodies and minds: Behavioral synchrony fosters mentalizing

Coordinating bodies and minds: Behavioral synchrony fosters mentalizing | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Behavioral synchrony, physically keeping together in time with others, is a widespread feature of human cultural practices. Emerging evidence suggests that the physical coordination involved in synchronizing one's behavior with another engages the cognitive systems involved in reasoning about others' mental states (i.e., mentalizing). In three experiments (N = 959), we demonstrate that physically moving in synchrony with others fosters some features of mentalizing – a core feature of human social cognition. In small groups, participants moved synchronously or asynchronously with others in a musical performance task. In Experiment 1, we found that synchrony, as compared to asynchrony, increased self-reported tendencies and abilities for considering others' mental states. In Experiment 2, we replicated this finding, but found that this effect did not extend to accuracy in mental state recognition. In Experiment 3, we tested synchrony's effects on diverse mentalizing measures and compared performance to both asynchrony and a no-movement control condition. Results indicated that synchrony decreased mental state attribution to socially non-relevant targets, and increased mental state attribution to specifically those with whom participants had synchronized. These results provide novel evidence for how synchrony, a common feature of cultural practices and day-to-day interpersonal coordination, shapes our sociality by engaging mentalizing capacities.

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A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Effects of Meditation on Empathy, Compassion, and Prosocial Behaviors

A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Effects of Meditation on Empathy, Compassion, and Prosocial Behaviors | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Increased attention has focused on methods to increase empathy, compassion, and prosocial behavior. Meditation practices have traditionally been used to cultivate prosocial outcomes, and recently investigations have sought to evaluate their efficacy for these outcomes. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of meditation for prosocial emotions and behavior. A literature search was conducted in PubMed, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase, and Cochrane databases (inception to April 2016) using the following search terms: mindfulness, meditation, mind-body therapies, tai chi, yoga, MBSR, MBCT, empathy, compassion, love, altruism, sympathy, or kindness. Randomized controlled trials in any population were included (26 studies with 1714 subjects). Most were conducted among healthy adults (n = 11) using compassion or loving kindness meditation (n = 18) over 8–12 weeks (n = 12) in a group format (n = 17). Most control groups were wait-list or no treatment (n = 15). Outcome measures included self-reported emotions (e.g., composite scores, validated measures) and observed behavioral outcomes (e.g., helping behavior in real-world and simulated settings). Many studies showed a low risk of bias. Results demonstrated small to medium effects of meditation on self-reported (SMD = .40, p < .001) and observable outcomes (SMD = .45, p < .001) and suggest psychosocial and neurophysiological mechanisms of action. Subgroup analyses also supported small to medium effects of meditation even when compared to active control groups. Clinicians and meditation teachers should be aware that meditation can improve positive prosocial emotions and behaviors.

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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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A network of dark personality traits: What lies at the heart of darkness?

A network of dark personality traits: What lies at the heart of darkness? | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

The question of whether there is a common element at the core of the various dark personality traits (e.g., psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism, spitefulness, aggressiveness) has been the subject of debate. Callousness, manipulativeness, and disagreeableness have all been nominated as possibly serving as the core of these dark traits. Network analysis, which graphically and quantitatively describes the centrality of various related traits, provides a novel technique for examining this issue. We estimated an association network and an Adaptive Least Absolute Shrinkage and Selection Operator network for two large samples, one college student sample (N = 2831) and one mixed college student and Mechanical Turk sample (N = 844). Interpersonal manipulation and callousness were the traits that were central to the networks.

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Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depressive disorder with either mindfulness-based cognitive therapy or cognitive therapy

Objective: Both Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and Cognitive Therapy (CT) enhance self-management of prodromal symptoms associated with depressive relapse, albeit through divergent therapeutic procedures. We evaluated rates of relapse in remitted depressed patients receiving MBCT and CT. Decentering and dysfunctional attitudes were assessed as treatment-specific process markers. Method: Participants in remission from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD; N = 166) were randomized to 8 weeks of either MBCT (N = 82) or CT (N = 84) and were followed for 24 months, with process markers measured every 3 months. Attendance in both treatments was high (6.3/8 session) and treatment fidelity and competence were evaluated. Relapse was defined as a return of symptoms meeting the criteria for major depression on Module A of the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (SCID). Results: Intention-to-treat analyses indicated no differences between MBCT and CT in either rates of relapse to MDD or time to relapse across 24 months of follow up. Both groups experienced significant increases in decentering and participants in CT reported greater reductions in dysfunctional attitudes. Within both treatments, participants who relapsed evidenced lower decentering scores than those who stayed well over the follow up. Conclusions: This is the first study to directly compare relapse prophylaxis following MBCT and CT directly. The lack of group differences in time to relapse supports the view that both interventions are equally effective and that increases in decentering achieved via either treatment are associated with greater protection. These findings lend credence to Teasdale et al.’s (2002) contention that, even though they may be taught through dissimilar methods, CT and MBCT help participants develop similar metacognitive skills for the regulation of distressing thoughts and emotions.

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Disappointing but interesting & important ...

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Mindfulness-based interventions for major depressive disorder: A comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Mindfulness-based interventions for major depressive disorder: A comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Background This is a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for a current episode of major depressive disorder. Methods Both English (PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases) and Chinese (WanFang and CNKI) databases were systematically and independently searched. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) and risk ratio (RR) ± their 95% confidence intervals (CIs) based on the random effects model were calculated. Results A total of 11 RCTs with 12 treatment arms (n = 764; MBIs = 363; and control group = 401) were identified and analyzed. Compared to the control group, MDD subjects receiving MBIs showed significant reduction in depressive symptoms (n =722; SMD: −0.59, 95% CI: −1.01 to −0.17, I2 = 85%, p = 0.006) at post-MBIs assessment, but the significance disappeared by the end of posttreatment follow-up. Subgroup analyses revealed that positive benefits of MBIs was associated with studies that had treatment as usual (TAU) control group, Chinese participants, open label design, no gender predominance, subjects younger than 44.4 years, and Jadad score ≥ 3, other illness phase and MBIs as augmentation group. Conclusion This meta-analysis found that MBIs was associated with reduction of depression severity immediately after MBIs but not at follow up endpoint. Further, the positive effects of MBIs were mainly driven by outlying studies. Higher quality of RCTs with larger samples and longer study duration are needed to confirm the findings.

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Mm ... caution about over-enthusiasm

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The psychological structure of humility.

Psychological inquiry into humility has advanced considerably over the past decade, yet this literature suffers from 2 notable limitations. First, there is no clear consensus among researchers about what humility is, and conceptualizations vary considerably across studies. Second, researchers have uniformly operationalized humility as a positive, socially desirable construct, while dismissing evidence from lay opinion and theological and philosophical traditions suggesting that humility may also have a darker side. To redress these issues, we conducted the first comprehensive, bottom-up analysis of the psychological structure of humility. Here we report 5 studies (total N = 1,479) that involve: (a) cluster analysis and categorization of humility-related words, generated by both lay persons and academic experts; (b) exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses of momentary and dispositional humility experiences; and (c) experimental induction of a momentary humility experience. Across these studies, we found converging evidence that humility can take 2 distinct forms, which we labeled “appreciative” and “self-abasing” humility. Appreciative humility tends to be elicited by personal success, involve action tendencies oriented toward celebrating others, and is positively associated with dispositions such as authentic pride, guilt, and prestige-based status. In contrast, self-abasing humility tends to be elicited by personal failure, involves negative self-evaluations and action tendencies oriented toward hiding from others’ evaluations, and is associated with dispositions such as shame, low self-esteem, and submissiveness. Together, these findings provide a systematic and empirically grounded understanding of humility.

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The limited prosocial effects of meditation: A systematic review and meta-analysis

The limited prosocial effects of meditation: A systematic review and meta-analysis | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

(Available in free full text) Many individuals believe that meditation has the capacity to not only alleviate mental-illness but to improve prosociality. This article systematically reviewed and meta-analysed the effects of meditation interventions on prosociality in randomized controlled trials of healthy adults. Five types of social behaviours were identified: compassion, empathy, aggression, connectedness and prejudice. Although we found a moderate increase in prosociality following meditation, further analysis indicated that this effect was qualified by two factors: type of prosociality and methodological quality. Meditation interventions had an effect on compassion and empathy, but not on aggression, connectedness or prejudice. We further found that compassion levels only increased under two conditions: when the teacher in the meditation intervention was a co-author in the published study; and when the study employed a passive (waiting list) control group but not an active one. Contrary to popular beliefs that meditation will lead to prosocial changes, the results of this meta-analysis showed that the effects of meditation on prosociality were qualified by the type of prosociality and methodological quality of the study. We conclude by highlighting a number of biases and theoretical problems that need addressing to improve quality of research in this area.

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A bit of a wake-up call ...

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Compassion at the mirror: Exposure to a mirror increases the efficacy of a self-compassion manipulation in enhancing soothing positive affect and heart rate variability

We tested whether a mirror could enhance the efficacy of a self-compassion manipulation in increasing soothing positive affect and heart rate variability (HRV). Eighty-six participants generated four phrases they would use to soothe and encourage their best friend. Second, they described an episode where they criticized themselves and were assigned to one of three conditions: (a) repeat the four phrases to themselves while looking at the mirror; (b) repeat the four phrases to themselves without the mirror; (c) look at themselves in the mirror without repeating the phrases. Participants in condition (a) reported higher levels of ‘soothing’ positive affect and HRV compared to participants in conditions (b) and (c). The effect of the ‘phrases at the mirror’ manipulation on soothing affect was mediated by increased common humanity. The mirror enhances the efficacy of this self-compassion manipulation in activating the soothing affect system connected with parasympathetic nervous system activity.

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Communal motivation and well-being in interpersonal relationships: An integrative review and meta-analysis

The motivation to care for the welfare of others, or communal motivation, is a crucial component of satisfying interpersonal relationships and personal well-being. The current meta-analysis synthesized 100 studies (Ntotal = 26,645) on communal motivation to establish its associations with subjective personal well-being (e.g., life satisfaction, positive affect, and negative affect) and relationship well-being (e.g., relationship satisfaction, partner-oriented positive affect, and partner-oriented negative affect) for both the person providing communal care and their partner. Three types of communal motivation were examined, including general, partner-specific (for children, parents, romantic partners, and friends), and unmitigated (i.e., devoid of agency and self-oriented concern). Results revealed positive associations between all three forms of communal motivation and relationship well-being for the self (.11 ≤ rs ≤ .44) and relationship partners (.11 ≤ rs ≤ .15). However, only general and partner-specific communal motivation, and not unmitigated communal motivation, were linked with greater personal well-being for both the self (.12 ≤ rs ≤ .16) and relationship partners (.04 ≤ rs ≤ .09). These associations were generally consistent across gender, relationship length, publication status, and lab. Finally, relationship partners were similar in partner-specific (r = .26) and unmitigated (r = .15) communal motivation only. Findings from the current meta-analysis suggest that care for the welfare of others is linked to greater relationship well-being for both members of a relationship. However, communal care is only linked to personal well-being insofar as it is mitigated by a degree of self-oriented concern. We provide theoretical and power recommendations for future research.

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Wise deliberation sustains cooperation

Wise deliberation sustains cooperation | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Humans are intuitively cooperative1. Humans are also capable of deliberation, which includes social comparison2, self-reflection3 and mental simulation of the future4. Does deliberation undermine or sustain cooperation? Some studies suggest that deliberation is positively associated with cooperation5, whereas other work indicates that deliberation (vis-à-vis intuition) impairs cooperation in social dilemmas6,7. Do some aspects of reasoning qualify whether deliberation sustains cooperation or impairs it? Here, we propose that wise reasoning8,​9,​10—that is, taking a bigger-picture perspective of the situation, including sensitivity to temporal and social interdependence between events—helps to integrate self-protective and cooperative goals, thereby sustaining cooperation when deliberating. Study 1 demonstrated that individual differences in wise reasoning about personal conflicts moderated the impact of naturalistic and experimentally manipulated deliberation time on cooperation. Studies 2 and 3 manipulated an observer perspective, the key aspect of wise reasoning, which eliminated the negative effect of deliberation time on cooperation. Under these circumstances, participants reported being guided by interdependent goals when making their decisions; thus, in these conditions, deliberation sustained cooperation. Combining scholarship on wisdom and behavioural economics, the present insights qualify the relationship between deliberation and prosociality, and highlight conditions under which wisdom promotes prosociality.

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Perhaps teens are too cynical to benefit from mindfulness, say authors of latest negative school trial

Perhaps teens are too cynical to benefit from mindfulness, say authors of latest negative school trial | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

The results may increase concerns that the roll out of mindfulness lessons in schools is outpacing the evidence base for their benefit." comments Christian Jarrett in this excellent BPS article.

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The Neurobiology of Human Attachments

The Neurobiology of Human Attachments | Compassion & Mindfulness Research | Scoop.it

Attachment bonds are a defining feature of mammals. A conceptual framework on human attachments is presented, integrating insights from animal research with neuroimaging studies. Four mammalian bonds are described, including parent-infant, pair-bonds, peers, and conspecifics, all built upon systems shaped by maternal provisions during sensitive periods, and evolution from rodents to humans is detailed. Bonding is underpinned by crosstalk of oxytocin and dopamine in striatum, combining motivation and vigor with social focus, and their time sensitivity/pulsatility enables reorganization of neural networks. Humans' representation-based attachments are characterized by biobehavioral synchrony and integrate subcortical with cortical networks implicated in reward/motivation, embodied simulation, and mentalization. The neurobiology of love may open perspectives on the 'situated' brain and initiate dialog between science and humanities, arts, and clinical wisdom.

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