Ellen Langer

Ellen Langer
Harvard University | Harvard · Department of Psychology

About

92
Publications
131,053
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9,757
Citations
Citations since 2017
10 Research Items
2663 Citations
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20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
20172018201920202021202220230100200300400500
Introduction

Publications

Publications (92)
Article
Mindfulness is promising for individuals with neurological disorders and their caregivers to improve psychological well-being. The potential application of a Langerian mindfulness intervention, focused on attention to variability, however, is still unknown. The objective of the study was to determine the feasibility (usability, satisfaction, and po...
Article
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Research Objectives To determine the usability, user acceptance and satisfaction of an online mindfulness program among stroke survivors and their caregivers. Design This study used a qualitative descriptive design. Setting At home. Participants Seven stroke survivors (70.2 +/-11.0 years, 1 female, 3 left hemisphere stroke) and three caregivers...
Preprint
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Background: Mindfulness is promising for individuals with neurological disorders and caregivers to improve psychological well-being. The potential application of a Langerian mindfulness intervention, focused on the attention to symptom variability, however, is still unknown. Objective: To determine the usability and satisfaction towards an online m...
Article
Objectives: Mindfulness-based interventions seem to be effective in promoting QOL of ALS patients and caregivers, but most require substantial time. In the Langerian approach, mindfulness can be easily promoted with mental tasks and short lectures. This study aims to explore the impact of an ALS-specific online Langerian mindfulness training progra...
Article
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The authors examine study participants who have Type 2 diabetes to determine whether cognition affects glucose levels in contrast to widely held suppositions. Thirty participants who have type 2 diabetes consume beverages that have identical ingredients but have deceptive nutrition facts labels. Blood glucose levels measured four times before and a...
Article
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Introduction Although ageing is generally perceived as a biologically determined process, the literature increasingly points to the importance of psychological factors in the ageing process, specifically age-related stereotypes or cognitive mindsets. Such stereotypes reflect self-perceptions and others’ perceptions about the ageing process and can...
Article
Background/Objective: Depression, anxiety, fatigue, and sleep problems are typical conditions reported in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), often resulting in a reduction of their quality of life (QOL) and well-being. Mindfulness is a multifaceted and complex construct that has been increasingly explored for its correlated to well-being. Despite...
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This article outlines the development of a 14-item measure of socio-cognitive mindfulness. Using eight samples (including multisource and multi-wave data) with a total of 4139 responses the authors developed a reliable scale with a tri-dimensional factor structure that replicated across five separate samples. The scale possessed both convergent and...
Article
Despite the growing interest in mindfulness and its demonstrated benefits, there are concerns about the reliance on subjective assessment tools. This study focused on the measurement of Langerian mindfulness, which refers to the active process of noticing new things and flexibly responding to the current context. Some of its key features overlap wi...
Article
Significance We investigated the hypothesis that the perception of time passing can exert a stronger influence on blood glucose level compared with the passage of actual time in people with type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest that manipulation of participants’ perception of time resulted in blood glucose levels changing in accordance with how muc...
Article
Navigation systems are often followed mindlessly, as users may focus the attention on the device and not on the path. The risk of errors and bias related to the mindless adherence of the instruction is high.We suggested that a mindful walking navigation system could reduce the errors and improve the overall exploration experience. Specifically, we...
Article
A broad range of studies conducted over the past 50 years suggest that perceived control is an important construct to physical health and psychological well-being. When people feel that they can exert control, they demonstrate better immune responses, cardiovascular functioning, physical strength, increased longevity, increased life satisfaction, a...
Article
Objectives: Caregivers of people with severe chronic conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), are at risk of developing depression and anxiety and reduced quality of life. Few studies have explored protective factors in this population and none investigated the role of mindfulness. The study aimed to examine the relationship betwee...
Article
In the past few decades, many studies have been conducted on the positive effects of mindfulness, a state of openness to novelty in which an individual actively constructs categories and distinctions. The authors tested the applicability of Langer's () mindfulness theory to Holland's () vocational personalities. Data from 156 Israeli full-time empl...
Article
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Background Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system involving a variety of debilitating physical, sensory, cognitive and emotional symptoms. This literature review evaluated the impact of psychological interventions on the physiological symptoms associated with the illness.MethodsA systematic literature search was conducted usi...
Article
Objective: Mindfulness is the process of actively making new distinctions, rather than relying on habitual or automatic categorisations from the past. Mindfulness has been positively associated with physical well-being, better recovery rates from disease or infections, pain reduction and overall quality of life (QOL). Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis...
Book
The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Mindfulness brings together the latest multi-disciplinary research on mindfulness from a group of international scholars: Examines the origins and key theories of the two dominant Western approaches to mindfulness; Compares, contrasts, and integrates insights from the social psychological and Eastern-derived perspect...
Article
Given almost 50 years of research into the reasoning for poor decision-making, scholars have called for a renewed research effort at determining how we can move from explaining to improving decision making. This ambition presupposes a thorough understanding of the current biases and a focus on overcoming them. In this paper, we are aiming to do bot...
Article
What's in a Name? Despite the vast flexibility that language offers us for self-expression, we occasionally encounter the limitations of words as imperfect symbols. The word red may trigger something relatively universal, but burgundy will likely take on a different meaning for a seamstress and a wine aficionado. Words become particularly clumsy wh...
Article
Naive realism is rampant in our culture. Whether it is the typical patient or the scientist collecting medical data, the implicit guiding belief seems to be we all experience a single reality. People of course pay lip service to the idea that things look different from different perspectives. Over thirty years of research on mindlessness/mindfulnes...
Article
Full-text available
This article outlines the development of a 14-item measure of socio-cognitive mindfulness. Using 9 samples (including multisource and multi-wave data) with a total of 4,345 responses the authors developed a reliable scale with a tri-dimensional factor structure that replicated across 5 separate samples. The scale possessed both convergent and discr...
Article
Full-text available
Mindfulness (Langer, 1978, 1989, 1997, 2005)a process of actively making novel distinctions about objects in one's awarenesshas been shown to have personal, interpersonal, and health benefits. In the present study, we tested the hypothesis that mindfulness is (a) perceived and preferred by children; and (b) has positive effects on them. The results...
Article
Mindfulness is a flexible state of mind that is characterized by openness to novelty, sensitivity to context, and engagement with the present moment. In this chapter, mindfulness is proposed to be a critical factor in determining individual performance and shaping our learning experiences. In particular, mindfulness appears to be crucial in helping...
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Social Comparisons are ubiquitous phenomenon, for some researchers the key to evolutionary survival, for others key to understanding depression. Anybody engaged in artistic endeavors understands the relevance comparisons play throughout the creative process. In this article we examine the downside of social comparisons, the mindlessness of social c...
Article
Ageism has resulted in overstated expectations regarding the inevitable deterioration in human capabilities, such as visual perception, with age (Rowe & Kahn, 1987; Grant, 1996). Human visual perception, however, is of a largely constructive nature, evidenced in the complementary interactions between top-down inputs (e.g., expectations) and bottom-...
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Social comparing is ubiquitous. In this article, we examine the downside of social comparing for the creative process. Specifically, we argue that social comparisons are typically mindless because we tend to (a) be oblivious to the fact that we are implicitly making choices about the specific subject of comparison, (b) accept at face value that the...
Article
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These experiments show that vision can be improved by manipulating mind-sets. In Study 1, participants were primed with the mind-set that pilots have excellent vision. Vision improved for participants who experientially became pilots (by flying a realistic flight simulator) compared with control participants (who performed the same task in an osten...
Article
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An experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that mindful attention to change regarding heart rate (HR) would result in greater control over HR. Experimental groups monitored the changing or stable nature of HR, respectively. All participants' HR slowed during the decrease phase. Participants whose attention was directed to the stable nature...
Article
Two studies were designed to test the hypothesis that actively creating novel distinctions and sonically portraying them during the performance of orchestral music is preferable to attempting to re-create a past performance. The data suggest that orchestral musicians preferred creating music when they were encouraged to mindfully incorporate subtle...
Chapter
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Marital HappinessMaslow, AbrahamMature Defense MechanismsMeaningMeditationMenninger, KarlMental HealthMental IllnessMindfulnessMoral DevelopmentMoral JudgmentMotherhoodMyers, David G.References
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Past research has demonstrated that males outperform females in mathematics (Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. J., Psychol Bull 107:139–155, 1990a). Research has also shown that encouraging mindful learning–learning information in a conditional rather than an absolute way–can increase mathematics performance in females (Ritchhart, R., & Perkins...
Article
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We assessed whether mindfulness (active categorization) can prevent automatic stereotype-activated behaviors related to the elderly. Eighty participants (mean age = 24.4) were given a set of photographs to prime the dimension Old Age and were asked to categorize them multiple times, to see whether the effect of the prime could be reduced through in...
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Although mindless evaluations typically accompany social comparisons, they are not necessary, and may be costly. We describe how mindlessness enters the social comparison process at two points. First, during the social comparison both self and other are mindlessly de-contextualized, through (1) biased selection of relevant behaviors, (2) biased sel...
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Three studies examined minority group members' attitudes toward other, similar minority groups. We predicted that minority group members would differentiate between multiple outgroups with asymmetric horizontal hostility(White & Langer, 1999), a pattern of expressing relatively unfavorable attitudes toward an outgroup that is similar to and more ma...
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Social comparisons may seem to serve several positive functions, including self-enhancement. Frequent social comparisons, however, have a dark side. Two studies examined the relationship between frequent social comparisons and destructive emotions and behaviors. In Study 1, people who said they made frequent social comparisons were more likely to e...
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The present article will focus on the cognitive theory of mindfulness and its importance in achieving unconditional self-acceptance. The goal of the mindful perspective is to increase cognitive flexibility and to thereby increase behavioral flexibility and the ability to adapt to one’s current environment in a meaningful manner. Empirical evidence...
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This study investigated the relationships among mindfulness, marital satisfaction, and perceived spousal similarity. All 95 subjects responded to a questionnaire measuring each of these variables, and an additional series of demographic variables. A significant positive relationship was found between mindfulness and marital satisfaction, with no st...
Article
Two hundred eight adults participated in 2 field experiments that investigated the effect of drawing as a mindfulness treatment. Novelty provokes mindfulness, and it was hypothesized that drawing is a method for introducing novelty. Experiment 1 showed that in novel settings, participants who drew the stimuli that they observed felt significantly m...
Article
Two experiments were conducted to assess the effect of pretending on the pretenders' self-esteem. People use social pretenses to avoid criticism and receive praise to maintain and augment this self-esteem. Nevertheless, there is a hidden opportunity cost of pretending. Participants were led (or not) to pretend that they possessed knowledge they did...
Article
The aim of this study was to examine whether a mindful intervention, based on noticing distinctions, could be used to improve the attention of older individuals. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four attention interventions. In the mindfulness groups, participants studying a set of pictures were told to notice either three or five dist...
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Sitting still while trying to pay attention implicitly reinforces the idea that to pay attention one should focus on a single aspect of the stimulus. Movement encourages attending to different aspects of the stimulus and as such is hypothesized to increase attention. We tested this with students from a traditional and a nontraditional school. Stude...
Chapter
In his autobiographical novel, House of God, medical resident Samuel Shem (1978) described the tendency of physicians in his hospital to call the old patients “gomers.” The term gomer (or “gome” for short), Shem explains, serves as an acronym for “Get Out of My Emergency Room.” The phrase implies than old patients will be annoying and that their he...
Article
Much communication research invokes the concept of mindlessness-mindfulness under various guises. Mindlessness refers to both chronic and state conditions in which individuals consider available information and alternatives incompletely, rigidly, reflexively, and thoughtlessly. To the extent that communicators behave mindlessly and mindlessness con...
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This study explores whether negative stereotypes about aging contribute to memory loss in old age. The research participants consisted of old and young Chinese hearing, American Deaf, and American hearing individuals. Members of the mainland Chinese and the American Deaf cultures were recruited on the basis of the belief that they would be less lik...
Article
The implicit "no pain, no gain" understanding of traditional education is contrasted with a view of education that encourages mindfulness. The former relies on a static conception of information typically communicated in absolute language. Here, "facts" are given as truth, free of context or perspective. The latter relies on variability, communicat...
Article
The dual concepts of mindfulness and mindlessness are described. Mindfulness is a state of conscious awareness in which the individual is implicitly aware of the context and content of information. It is a state of openness to novelty in which the individual actively constructs categories and distinctions. In contrast, mindlessness is a state of mi...
Article
The theory of mindfulness (Langer, 1989a) shares with some current theories of intelligence an emphasis on the importance of cognitive flexibility. The mindfulness approach to cognitive flexibility differs from the intelligence approach in its conception of the relation between individuals and their environment. Intelligence theory employs a criter...
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Can direct change in state of consciousness through specific mental techniques extend human life and reverse age-related declines? To address this question, 73 residents of 8 homes for the elderly (mean age = 81 years) were randomly assigned among no treatment and 3 treatments highly similar in external structure and expectations: the Transcendenta...
Article
In contrast with a mindless analysis of addiction, which emphasizes negative behavioral consequences of addiction, a mindful analysis of addiction reveals that the positive benefits of addiction often may be unintentionally overlooked. The positive benefits may be one of the factors that make kicking the addiction so difficult; the addict who quits...
Article
Most people can draw on vast categories of stored information when explicitly asked to do so. The spontaneous, creative, mindful use of previously learned information, however, tends to be atypical. Three studies were designed to assess whether the manner in which information is initially presented affects how such information will subsequently be...
Article
Two studies were conducted in order to apply the mindlessness/mindfulness theory to the realm of successful treatment for alcoholism and successful aging. According to the theory, one's initial exposure to events should have enduring effects on subsequent behavior if the information available at that time were mind-lessly accepted; that is, if the...
Article
explore particular intrapersonal and interpersonal phenomena that characterize intimate interpersonal relationships, and to suggest various clinical implications that follow from analysis of these phenomena role of cognitive processes in reflecting, as well as shaping, various aspects of relationship development over time / interpretation / infer...
Article
We conducted an experiment to assess the effects of mindfulness (active distinction making) training on the perception of and reaction to handicapped children. In a 2 X 2 factorial design, sixth graders received either a high- or low-mindfulness treatment and viewed slides that were either all of "normal" people or consisted primarily of "handicapp...
Article
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Responds to V. S. Folkes's (see record 1985-20109-001) critique of the present authors' (see record 1979-23568-001) analysis of the mindlessness of Ss' actions in complying with confederates' requests. Discussion focuses on Folkes's assertion that differential rates of compliance reflect the controllability of the reasons provided and her claim t...
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Conducted 3 studies to investigate associations among mindfulness, longevity, and senility. Study 1 Ss were 45 76–80 yr old residents of a nursing home. Study 2 Ss were 18 65–96 yr old female nursing home residents. Study 3 data were collected from 3 nursing homes and included data on 40 persons who had died of heart disease, 17 with arteroscleroti...
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A new technique for enhancing perceived control was described and tested. Briefly it is a technique that requires subjects to maintain awareness of making choices by focusing their attention on the rejected alternatives. Participants were required to monitor their behavior for three weeks focusing upon a single activity each day. One group focused...
Article
Two experiments examined the effect that the conditions of initial exposure to information have on the "mindless" processing of that information and its subsequent use. It was hypothesized that the context of initial exposure to information limits its subsequent use. Information initially perceived as irrelevant may be uncritically accepted. If tha...
Article
When overlearned motor acts are mindfully considered while they are being performed, performance typically is severely disrupted. The present research questioned whether a similar debilitation results when mindful consideration is given to intellectual behavior that has been overlearned. Subjects discussed either an overlearned or novel issue and d...
Article
D. A. Davis questioned E. J. Langer and R. P. Abelson's analysis of the biased clinical assessments of those who are labeled patient vs those labeled job applicant. Davis asserted that those divergent assessments are justified in light of distinctive base rates for psychopathology in patients vs job applicants. The plausibility and appropriateness...
Article
A study was conducted to explore the possible relationship between post-divorce adjustment and the attributions divorced women give for the failure of their marriages. The study revealed that significantly more subjects who attributed their divorces to interactive rather than personal factors were more active, more socially skilled, happier, more o...
Article
An experiment was conducted to determine whether a theory of mindfulness could explain the perception of deviance. Subjects viewed a videotape of an individual who was purportedly either a millionaire, an ex-mental patient, a homosexual divorced, or a cancer victim. These individuals were expected to occasion mindfulness because of their statistica...
Article
Two studies were conducted with nursing home residents to determine whether memory could be improved. This was accomplished by increasing the cognitive demand of the environment and then varying the extent to which residents were motivated to attend to and remember these environmental factors. In Study 1, motivation to practice recommended cognitiv...
Article
It was hypothesized that as overlearning leads to "mindlessness," the individual components of a task become relatively inaccessible to consciousness and therefore unavailable to serve as evidence of task competence. This may lead to a decrement in performance if circumstances, for example, a label connoting relative inferiority, lead one to questi...
Article
Explored self-induced dependence, a process whereby an individual erroneously infers incompetence from situational factors. It was hypothesized that being assigned an explicit label that connotes inferiority relative to another person ("assistant"), engaging in a consensually defined demeaning task, no longer engaging in a previously performed task...
Article
Two field experiments were conducted to assess the attributions people make for burglary and burglary prevention, and the degree to which these attributions relate to overt crime prevention measures. It was found that an overwhelming majority of our subjects believed that burglary prevention was the responsibility of others and as such, they did no...
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Conducted 3 field experiments to test the hypothesis that complex social behavior that appears to be enacted mindfully instead may be performed without conscious attention to relevant semantics. 200 Ss in compliance paradigms received communications that either were or were not semantically sensible, were or were not structurally consistent with th...
Article
Reports an error in "Long-term effects of a control-relevant intervention with the institutionalized aged" by Judith Rodin and Ellen J. Langer ( Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1977[Dec], Vol 35[12], pp. 897-902). On page 900, the z score should be changed. The outcome is therefore only marginally significant, and a more cautious int...
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Elderly nursing home residents who were tested as part of an intervention designed to increase feelings of choice and personal responsibility over daily events were reevaluated 18 month later. Nurses' ratings and health and mortality indicators suggest that the experimental treatment and /or the processes that it set in motion had sustained benefic...
Article
Tested the effects of high densities in a field setting on complex cognitive and behavioral tasks and on affective responses. It was also hypothesized that by providing Ss with increased cognitive control of the situation by giving them information about the effects of crowding, the aversive effects of the high-density situation would be ameliorate...
Article
Experimental evidence is presented which explores the social stimulus value of pregnancy. It was found that, for men especially, the pregnant woman elicits avoidance and staring and that these responses occur primarily because pregnancy is a novel visual stimulus. For women, avoidance seems to be tied less to the stimulus aspects of the pregnant wo...
Article
Reports an error in the original article by Langer and Saegert (Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. Vol 35(3) Mar 1977, 175-182). On page 180, the scores at the bottom of Table 1 are incorrect. The corrected table is presented here. Tested the effects of high densities in a field setting on complex cognitive and behavioral tasks and on affe...
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A field experiment was conducted to assess the effects of enhanced personal responsibility and choice on a group of nursing home residents. It was expected that the debilitated condition of many of the aged residing in institutional settings is, at least in part, a result of living in a virtually decision-free environment and consequently is potent...
Article
Three experiments were conducted in order to assess the validity of the novel-stimulus hypothesis as an explanation for why people who are physically different (i.e., novel) are avoided. The hypothesis states that avoidance is mediated by conflict over a desire to stare at novel stimuli and a desire to adhere to a norm against staring when the nove...
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Tested the hypothesis that the stare may function as a stimulus either to approach or to avoidance, depending on the context. In a 2 * 2 bystander intervention paradigm, the nature of the victim's plight and the appropriate remedy were either clear or ambiguous, and the victim either stared at the S or did not. Data from 60 20-65 yr old unaccompani...
Article
This study assesses the effectiveness of two stress-reducing strategies in a field setting. The first strategy consists of a coping device which entails the cognitive reappraisal of anxiety-provoking events, calming self-talk, and cognitive control through selective attention. The second strategy consists of supplying information about the threaten...
Article
Studied attributions in a purely chance task (predicting coin tosses) as a function of either a descending, ascending, or random sequence of outcomes and as a function of whether the S performed the task himself or observed another S performing the task. A primary effect was predicted; early successes would induce a skill orientation towards the ta...
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Assessed the effect of labels on clinicians' judgments in a 2 * 2 design. Clinicians (N = 40) representing behavioral and analytic schools of thought viewed a single videotaped interview between a man who had recently applied for a new job and one of the authors. One-half of each group was told that the interviewee was a "job applicant," while the...
Article
Conducted 2 experiments with a total of 80 Ss and 2 female confederates to test the effect of subtle semantic variations on the frequency of compliance to requests for help. The help appeals were identical except for sentence order, and were thus characterized by the orientation or set which the opening phrases occasioned in the potential helper. T...

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