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Research has shown that mindfulness can positively affect peoples’ lives in a number of ways, including relying less on previously established associations. We focused on the impact of mindfulness on implicit age and racial bias as measured by implicit association tests (IATs). Participants listened to either a mindfulness or a control audio and then completed the race and age IATs. Mindfulness meditation caused an increase in state mindfulness and a decrease in implicit race and age bias. Analyses using the Quad Model showed that this reduction was due to weaker automatically activated associations on the IATs.
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DOI: 10.1177/1948550614559651
published online 24 November 2014Social Psychological and Personality Science
Adam Lueke and Bryan Gibson
Responding
Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Implicit Age and Race Bias: The Role of Reduced Automaticity of
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Article
Mindfulness Meditation Reduces
Implicit Age and Race Bias: The Role
of Reduced Automaticity of Responding
Adam Lueke
1
and Bryan Gibson
1
Abstract
Research has shown that mindfulness can positively affect peoples’ lives in a number of ways, including relying less on previously
established associations. We focused on the impact of mindfulness on implicit age and racial bias as measured by implicit asso-
ciation tests (IATs). Participants listened to either a mindfulness or a control audio and then completed the race and age IATs.
Mindfulness meditation caused an increase in state mindfulness and a decrease in implicit race and age bias. Analyses using the
Quad Model showed that this reduction was due to weaker automatically activated associations on the IATs.
Keywords
mindfulness meditation, implicit attitudes, implicit bias, prejudice
We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness meditation focuses the individual on the present
and encourages practitioners to view thoughts and feelings
nonjudgmentally as mental events, rather than as part of the
self. This allows the individual to understand and reflect on
these events as transient moments that are separate from the
self, which inhibits the natural tendency toward reaction and
automatic evaluation (Bishop et al., 2004). Research regarding
this process has demonstrated the unique ability of mindfulness
to help assuage a number of problem behaviors. For example,
mindfulness reduces food cravings for overweight and obese
individuals (Alberts, Mulkens, Smeets, & Thewissen, 2010;
Alberts, Thewissen, & Raes, 2012; Paolini et al., 2012),
improves psychological and health-related medical symptoms
and stress (Baer, Carmody, & Hunsinger, 2012; Carmody,
Reed, Kristeller, & Merriam, 2008; Ciesla, Reilly, Dickson,
Emanuel, & Updegraff, 2012), and generally promotes well-
being and happiness (Brown & Ryan, 2003; Collard, Avny,
& Boniwell, 2008; Killingsworth & Gilbert, 2010).
In addition, mindfulness has a number of cognitive benefits,
including increased working memory capacity and reduced
mind wandering (Mrazek, Franklin, Phillips, Baird, &
Schooler, 2013), avoidance of the sunk cost bias (Hafenbrack,
Kinias, & Barsade, 2014), and increased compassion (Condon,
Desbordes, Miller, & DeSteno, 2013). Mindfulness may also
inhibit automatic evaluation (Bishop et al., 2004; Kang,
Gruber, & Gray, 2013). For example, mindfulness reduced
dieters’ automatic responses to attractive food (Papies, Barsalou,
& Custers, 2012), reduced problem solvers’ reliance on auto-
matic solutions (Ostafin & Kassman, 2012), and reduced the
correlation between implicit alcohol attitudes and drinking
behavior (Ostafin, Bauer, & Myxter, 2012; Ostafin & Marlatt,
2008). These findings suggest that mindfulness meditation
minimizes the impact and influence of past experience on the
present moment, whether it is an established attraction toward
unhealthy food or the tendency to use past information to
solve current problems. One mindfulness practitioner stated
that mindfulness increases ‘‘nonconceptual awareness’’ that
‘does not get hung up on ideas ...or memories’’ (Gunaratana,
2002, p. 140). Similarly, Ostafin and Kassman (2012) state
that ‘‘An aim of mindfulness is to limit the ability of automat-
ically activated verbal-conceptual content derived from past
experience to bias thought and behavior’’ (p. 1032). Thus,
by decreasing reliance on past associations in memory, mind-
fulness is thought to free people to choose actions more
thoughtfully and with less bias from those past associations.
The focus of the current research is on the potential for
mindfulness to reduce one form of automatic social cognition:
implicit out-group bias. Implicit attitudes are based on the auto-
matic association between constructs in memory (Greenwald &
Banaji, 1995; Greenwald et al., 2002). A common method for
1
Department of Psychology, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI,
USA
Corresponding Author:
Adam Lueke, Department of Psychology, Central Michigan University, Sloan
Hall 101, Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859, USA.
Email: lueke1a@cmich.edu
Social Psychological and
Personality Science
1-8
ªThe Author(s) 2014
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measuring these associations is the implicit association test
(IAT). Research has shown that White participants who take
the IAT tend to have stronger associations between White and
good than between Black and good. This is indicated by
quicker response times for words that represent good things
when paired with White faces than with Black faces, and for
quicker response times for words that represent bad things
when paired with Black faces than with White faces (Dasgupta,
McGhee, Greenwald, & Banaji, 2000; Greenwald, McGhee, &
Schwartz, 1998). Similarly, young people tend to have stronger
associations between young and good than between old and
good (Dasgupta & Greenwald, 2001; Hummert, Garstka,
O’Brien, Greenwald, & Mellott, 2002). Thus, in our sample
(i.e., young, White college students), we expected that we
would find evidence of both implicit race and implicit age bias.
Exploring whether mindfulness can reduce automatic out-
group bias is important because such bias can lead to a number
of negative outcomes. First, it is well established that encoun-
tering an out-group member or related stimuli activates auto-
matic out-group attitudes (Casper, Rothermund, & Wentura,
2010; Devine, 1989; Payne, 2005; Payne, Lambert, & Jacoby,
2002). Once activated, these automatic evaluations cause a
number of behavioral effects. These effects include causing
poorer performance on difficult tests (Gibson, Lueke, & Bush-
man, 2014), being more willing to shoot at a Black suspect in a
simulation (Correll, Park, Judd, & Wittenbrink, 2002; Sim,
Correll, & Sadler, 2013), or even becoming more aggressive
(Yang, Gibson, Lueke, Huesmann, & Bushman, 2014). Implicit
out-group attitudes are particularly important to understand
because they have been shown to be more predictive of certain
types of negative out-group behavior than explicit attitudes.
For example, implicit attitudes predict discriminatory hiring
decisions better than explicit attitudes (Rudman & Glick,
2001; Ziegert & Hanges, 2005), they predict trust in
out-group members better than explicit attitudes (Stanley,
Sokol-Hessner, Banaji, & Phelps, 2011), and they are also more
predictive of subtle changes in body language toward an
out-group individual (McConnell & Leibold, 2001), which in
turn leads to more negative evaluations of such interactions
(Dovidio, Kawakami, & Gaertner, 2002). Importantly, the
automatic association of an out-group with a negative trait can
fuel prejudice and discrimination even for individuals who
honestly strive to hold egalitarian values (Fazio, Jackson,
Dunton, & Williams, 1995; Gaertner & Dovidio, 1986). Note
that even though current conceptualizations of implicit atti-
tudes suggest that they are not necessarily unconscious in
nature (Gawronski, Hofmann, & Wilbur, 2006), they could still
affect people in ways in which they are unaware (Galdi, Arcuri,
& Gawronski, 2008). In this way, individuals may be aware of
negative implicit attitudes but still be unable to overcome them.
Given the negative consequences of implicit out-group bias,
it is important to find ways to reduce it. A variety of studies
have shown that implicit attitudes are malleable and that they
can shift in response to a variety of processes (Ito, Chiao,
Devine, Lorig, & Cacioppo, 2006; Richeson & Ambady,
2003; Sinclair, Lowery, Hardin, & Colangelo, 2005).For
example, changes to implicit racial attitudes have been shown
to occur as a result of evaluative conditioning (Olson & Fazio,
2006), exposing individuals to positive out-group exemplars
(Dasgupta & Greenwald, 2001), and taking a college course
that focuses on multicultural issues, taught by an African
American professor (Rudman, Ashmore, & Gary, 2001). In all
of these studies, the goal of the manipulation was to weaken
previously held associations, diminish or eliminate negative
implicit out-group attitudes, or even replace old automatically
activated associations with new ones. All of these methods
work directly on the bias itself.
Given that mindfulness has been shown to reduce different
forms of automatic processing and minimize reliance on pre-
viously established associations, we hypothesized that mind-
fulness meditation could reduce implicit out-group bias
without such a direct focus on the bias itself. There is some
evidence that mindfulness can reduce discrimination. For
example, Langer and her colleagues showed that mindfulness
training reduced prejudiced behavior toward the elderly
(Djikic, Langer, & Stapleton, 2008) and the handicapped
(Langer, Bashner, & Chanowitz, 1985). There are a number
of differences between these studies and ours, however. For
example, neither study measured attitudes, and both used
mindfulness training that focused specifically on the out-
group of interest. In addition, Langer’s conceptualization of
mindfulness is somewhat different than that espoused in the
Buddhist tradition of meditation examined in our research.
Despite these differences, however, Langer’s research is sug-
gestive of a connection between mindfulness and prejudice
that we explore further in our research. Given that mindful-
ness can reduce automatic processing and responding, and
lead to less prejudicial behavior, we hypothesized that mind-
fulness meditation would reduce implicit out-group bias as
measured by the IAT. Recent research has shown that a differ-
ent form of meditation, lovingkindness meditation, can reduce
bias in the IAT (Kang, Gray, & Dovidio, 2014). This reduc-
tion in implicit bias, however, was mediated by a reduction
in stress, at least for implicit bias toward homeless people.
In contrast to the Kang, Gray, and Dovidio (2014) results,
we propose that any reduction in implicit bias in response to
mindfulness meditation will be the result of reduced activation
of automatic associations. It would, however, be incorrect to
assume that any reduction in bias on the IAT is necessarily
indicative of changes in such automatic associations. Although
the IAT was developed as a means to tap into automatic asso-
ciations (Greenwald et al., 1998), no measure is process pure,
and therefore both automatic and controlled processes may
play a role in any bias identified in the IAT (Conrey, Sherman,
Gawronski, Hugenberg, & Groom, 2005; Meissner & Rother-
mund, 2013). One method that has been used to attempt to sep-
arate automatic from controlled components of the IAT is
a multinomial modeling approach called the Quad model
(Conrey et al., 2005; Sherman et al., 2008). The Quad model
uses the pattern of error responses on the IAT to separate IAT
effects into four distinct components: automatic activation
(AC), which is conceptualized as the likelihood that an
2Social Psychological and Personality Science
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association or evaluation is automatically activated when a sti-
mulus object is encountered; discriminability (D), which is
conceptualized as the likelihood that a correct response can
be determined; overcoming bias (OB), which is conceptualized
as the likelihood that an initially activated association can be
overcome and replaced by a correct response; and Guessing
(G), which is conceptualized as either random or systematic
bias that influences responding (Sherman et al., 2008).
The Quad model has been used successfully to show that
shifts or differences in IAT responses can be the result of
different underlying processes. For example, in their initial
exploration of the Quad model, Conrey, Sherman, Gawaronski,
Hugenberg, and Groom (2005) showed that the addition of a
response window constraint requiring faster responses on the
IAT reduced the impact of the OB component on IAT perfor-
mance but did not reduce the impact of the AC component.
Thus, a manipulation decreasing the opportunity for partici-
pants to engage in more controlled responding limited the
effect of a controlled process (OB) on the outcome but did not
alter the impact of an automatic process (AC) on the outcome.
In a similar vein, Gonsalkorale, Allen, Sherman, and Klauer
(2010) showed that exposure to positive Black exemplars and
negative White exemplars reduced the AC component of White
participant’s responses on the IAT. Finally, Gonsalkorale,
Sherman, and Klauer (2014) showed that despite having simi-
larly biased scores on the age IAT, the bias in older and
younger adults came from different components of the model.
Older adults showed less automatic activation of negative
age-related constructs; but in addition, they showed less ability
to overcome bias. Younger respondents showed more auto-
matic bias and more ability to overcome the bias. The authors
suggest that diminished inhibitory functioning in older adults
leads to decreased ability to overcome biased responses on the
IAT. In summary, the Quad model provides a method for
parsing out automatic and controlled processes contributing
to IAT performance. Whereas other research showing a reduc-
tion in automaticity following mindfulness meditation has sim-
ply measured outcomes assumed to be automatic, and shown a
difference in response, the Quad model allows for a direct mea-
surement of both automatic and controlled processing. This
direct determination of how mindfulness affects both automatic
and controlled components of participants’ implicit attitudes is
a unique strength of our method. Given our review of the liter-
ature on mindfulness, we hypothesized that mindfulness train-
ing will result in a reduced impact of AC on IAT performance
but have no effect on the D, OB, or G components.
Method
Participants
Participants were 72 (71%female) White college students
from a large Midwestern University. The study was advertised
as examining the relationship between listening to an audio-
tape and reaction time. There was no mention of race or age
in the recruitment of participants or during their instruction
in the lab. As such, participants of any race were allowed to
participate in the experiment. Only White participants were
included in the final sample, with the data from 16 partici-
pants of other races being eliminated. All participants were
traditional college students between the ages of 18 and 23.
Materials and Procedure
The IAT stimuli were drawn from the Project Implicit web-
site. For the race IAT, these included photos of six White and
six Black faces and eight positive and eight negative words.
Similarly, the age IAT used photos of six old and six young
faces and the same eight positive and eight negative words
used in the race IAT. The IATs were presented in the tradi-
tional seven-block format. In Blocks 1 and 2, participants
learned to sort the words separately and the faces separately.
Block 3 combined these categories in an initial practice block.
After a brief break, Block 4 continued with the same pairings.
Block 5 reversed the responses for the faces (e.g., if the initial
correct response was ‘‘e’’ for White faces and ‘‘i’’ for Black
faces, this was reversed to ‘‘i’’ for White faces and ‘‘e’’ for
Black faces). Block 6 was a practice block combining the new
response keys for the faces with the old word response keys.
Block 7 was a longer block with this same combination. Both
type of IAT (i.e., race or age) and response compatibility (i.e.,
compatible responses first or incompatible responses first)
were counterbalanced across participants. Note, however, that
the response for positive and negative words remained consis-
tent across trials for each participant. That is, if a participant
began with ‘‘i’’ for positive words, and ‘e’ for negative words,
that response pattern was maintained across both IATs. Only
the response keys for the faces in the IAT varied across trials.
TheIATwasscoredsothathighernumbersreflectedgreater
implicit bias against Blacks or older people, meaning a greater
association of Black or old with bad.
Participants were run up to three at a time at computer
workstations with headphones. Participants completed the
Motivation to Respond Without Prejudice Scale (Plant &
Devine, 1998; e.g., I am personally motivated by my beliefs
to be non-prejudiced toward Black people) and the Mindful
Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003;
e.g., I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without
paying attention to what I experience along the way), which
measures trait mindfulness. The Motivation to Respond With-
out Prejudice Scale was used to ensure that conditions did not
differ on this measure initially. Previous research demon-
strates that individuals with higher levels of internal motiva-
tion to respond without prejudice show higher D and lower
AC components in the Quad Model (Gonsalkorale, Sherman,
Allen, Klauer, & Amodio, 2011).
Participants then listened to either a 10-min mindfulness
recording or a control recording (Cropley, Ussher, & Charitou,
2007). The mindfulness recording instructed participants to
become aware of bodily sensations (heartbeat and breath) and
fully accept these sensations and any thoughts without restric-
tion, resistance, or judgment. The control recording discussed
Lueke and Gibson 3
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natural history and was read by the same narrator as the
mindfulness recording. Participants next answered a state
mindfulness question taken from the MAAS on an 11-point
Likert-type scale (‘‘At this moment [right now] I feel like I will
rush through activities without being really attentive to them’
[reverse scored]; Ostafin & Kassman, 2012). Finally, partici-
pants completed the race and age IAT (order was counterba-
lanced across participants) and then answered 10 questions
regarding awareness of any bias they may have shown on the
IAT (e.g., It was easier to sort when ‘‘Young’’ was paired with
‘Good’’). Participants were then debriefed and excused.
Results
Preliminary Analysis
The groups did not differ on external motivation to avoid
prejudice, t(70) < 1, p¼.59, a¼.78, internal motivation
to avoid prejudice, t(70) ¼1.12, p¼.27, a¼.91, or trait
mindfulness before the manipulation, t(70) ¼1.25, p¼.22,
a¼.83. In contrast, participants in the experimental group
showed significantly more state mindfulness (M¼8.87)
than control participants (M¼6.42) following the manipu-
lation, t(70) ¼4.04, p< .001, d¼.95. Finally, the summed
awareness of implicit bias questions (a¼.81) did not differ
across conditions (F<1).
Implicit Bias
IAT scores were calculated using the D6 method (Greenwald,
Nosek, & Banaji, 2003). Participants had a low overall mean
error rate in test trials for both the race (M¼10.1%)andage
IATs (M¼10.2%). In each measure, only two participants
showed an error rate above 25%(all < 32%). Split half relia-
bility measures were calculated for both the race and age
IATs. The first and second half of responses for each IAT
were significantly correlated, r(72) ¼.28, p< .01, for the race
IAT; and r(72) ¼.65, p< .001, for the age IAT. Pearson’s
rcorrelations were calculated to determine the possible rela-
tionship between race and age IAT scores. Due to a computer
malfunction, six participants had data for either the age or the
race IAT only. These participants were not included in the
correlational analysis. Race and age IAT scores were not cor-
related overall, r(66) ¼.11, p¼.19, nor were they correlated
for just those in the control group, r(31) ¼.12, p¼.26, or just
those in the mindfulness group, r(35) ¼.04, p¼.41.
Separate 2 (Mindfulness vs. Control) 2(IATorder)anal-
yses of variance were performed on the race and age IAT. For
the race IAT, the main effect for mindfulness was significant,
F(1, 68) ¼4.21, p¼.04, Z
p
2
¼.06. The mindfulness group
showed less implicit racial bias than did the control group (see
Figure 1). There was no main effect for IAT order and no
interaction (both Fs<1).
For the age IAT, the main effect for mindfulness was sig-
nificant, F(1, 67) ¼3.88, p¼.05, Z
p
2
¼.06. The mindful-
ness group showed less implicit age bias than did the
control group (see Figure 1). There was no main effect for
IAT order, F(1, 67) ¼2.00, p¼.16, Z
p
2
¼.03, and no
interaction (F<1).
Quad Model Analyses
Quad model analyses were calculated to determine whether
the mindfulness condition actually reduced automatic asso-
ciations (AC) of Black and old with bad while leaving the
other components (D, G, and OB) unchanged.
For the Race IAT, we modeled two AC parameters (Black/
bad and White/good), along with one OB parameter, one D
parameter, and one G parameter separately for both the mind-
fulness and control conditions (see Conrey et al., 2005). This
model fit the data, w
2
(2) ¼4.63, p¼.10. Each subsequent
parameter comparison was then analyzed individually in
order to identify whether the mindfulness and control condi-
tions differed from each other in their responses to each para-
meter. First, a comparison of the AC parameter values for
Black/bad association was made between the control condi-
tion (AC ¼.10) and the mindfulness condition (AC ¼.04).
Results indicated a significantly lower activation of Black/
bad automatic associations for the mindfulness group,
Dw
2
(1) ¼5.03, p¼.02. Comparisons for the White/good
association trended in the same direction (control AC ¼.10;
mindfulness AC ¼.05) but were not significant, Dw
2
(1) ¼
2.72, p¼.10.
The analyses evaluating differences in the other model
components between mindfulness and control conditions
found no significant effects for overcoming bias (OB),
Dw
2
(1) ¼.01, p¼.92, or guessing (G), Dw
2
(1) ¼.02, p¼
.89. However, there was a significant difference in discrimin-
ability (D), Dw
2
(1) ¼14.51, p< .001, showing greater discri-
minability in the control condition (D ¼.89) than in the
mindfulness condition (D ¼.81).
For the age IAT, we modeled two AC parameters (young/
good and old/bad), along with one OB parameter, one D para-
meter, and one G parameter separately for both the mindful-
ness and control conditions. This model fit the data, w
2
(2) ¼
0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0.7
0.8
Race Age
Implicit Bias
Race and Age IAT
Control
Mindfulness
Figure 1. Implicit bias on the race and age IAT for the control and
mindfulness conditions.
4Social Psychological and Personality Science
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4.72, p¼.09. Each subsequent parameter comparison was
then analyzed individually for differences between the mind-
fulness and control conditions. First, a comparison of the AC
parameter values for old/bad association was made between
the control condition (AC ¼.07) and the mindfulness condi-
tion (AC ¼.00). Results indicated a significantly lower acti-
vation of old/bad automatic associations for the mindfulness
group, Dw
2
(1) ¼15.36, p¼.001. Comparisons for the
young/good association trended in the same direction (control
AC ¼.04; mindfulness AC ¼.01) but were not significant,
Dw
2
(1) ¼1.71, p¼.19.
The analyses evaluating differences in the other model
components between mindfulness and control conditions
found no significant effects for overcoming bias (OB),
Dw
2
(1) ¼.00, p¼1.00. However, the guessing component
was significantly higher for the control condition (G ¼.58)
than for the mindfulness condition (G ¼.48), Dw
2
(1) ¼
4.43, p¼.04. As values greater than .5 represent a right key
response bias and values lower than .5 represent a left key
response bias, the control group exhibited a right key bias,
whereas the mindfulness condition exhibited almost no key
bias. In addition, there was a significant difference in discri-
minability (D), Dw
2
(1) ¼37.28, p< .001, showing greater dis-
criminability in the control condition (D ¼.86) than in the
mindfulness condition (D ¼.73).
Discussion
Brief mindfulness meditation reduced implicit race and age
bias. Specifically, listening to a 10-min audiotape that
focused the individual and made them more aware of their
sensations and thoughts in a nonjudgmental way caused them
to show less implicit bias against Blacks and old people on
the race and age IATs than individuals who listened to a
10-min audiotape describing historical events and geographi-
cal landmarks.
Analyses using the Quad model confirmed that for both the
race and age IAT, this reduction was the result, in part, of a
reduction in the automatic activation of negative associations.
Thus, as has been shown in prior research (e.g., Ostafin &
Kassman, 2012), mindfulness reduced reliance on automatic
associations. This is the first demonstration that such a reduc-
tion generalizes to implicit out-group bias. Unexpectedly, the
mindfulness and control conditions also differed on the D
component for both the race and age IATs. The control group
showed a greater ability to discriminate between the stimuli
than the mindfulness group. Although it is not entirely clear
why these differences emerged, Conrey et al. (2005) provide
an interesting possibility in their discussion of the Quad
model. They suggest that in some cases, greater automatic
activation could be associated with greater discriminability.
For example, people who fear snakes may have an automatic
fear response when presented with a snake, and in addition,
their increased automatic associations may make it easier to
detect a snake in the environment. In the case of the race and
ageIATs,itmaybethatreducing the automatic activation of
Black-bad and old-bad could have made race and age less
detectable within the IAT tasks.
Future research should evaluate the effect of mindfulness
on other IATs, such as sexual orientation and other relevant
biases that contain an automatic component. This would help
to create a clearer picture of the generality of the effect we
identify here and could also allow for further exploration of
what is driving the reduction in implicit bias following a
mindfulness experience. Similarly, future research could ben-
efit by examining the effect of a regular mindfulness medita-
tion practice on practitioner’s implicit biases. If such benefits
are apparent immediately, as suggested by our results, further
reduction may accrue over time. In other words, the novice
that briefly undergoes meditation is transformed into a state
of awareness of sensations and thoughts and nonjudgmental
acceptance of those sensations and thoughts. However, this
brief meditation is likely to dissipate into a default state of
being—one in which reliance on automatically activated asso-
ciations reverts to higher levels. In contrast, the experienced
practitioner not only engages in meditation more often, which
allows nonjudgmental awareness to be experienced more
often, but through this consistency creates a new default state
of being—an awareness that permeates greater aspects of the
self and of everyday experience. In this way, a deeper mindful
experience can be cultivated, widening the area of awareness
that the individual can attend to. This consistent and widened
awareness likely has stronger effects on implicit attitudes and
accompanying behavior. Future research should examine how
a sustained mindfulness practice could influence implicit
attitudes and other forms of automatic cognition.
Most of the benefits of mindfulness identified thus far have
focused on intrapersonal outcomes (e.g., stress reduction,
reduced mind wandering, weight control). Although the IAT,
too, measures an intrapersonal process (i.e., the individual’s
automatic associations, their ability to overcome bias, etc.),
the results of this study have implications for interpersonal
processes as well. Whether the observed reduction in implicit
bias translates into a reduction of prejudiced behavior is
unknown. Quad model analyses suggest that the reductions
in race and age IAT scores demonstrated in our mindfulness
group represent a reduction in the automatic activation of
associations between the out-group and negative valence.
Given the relationship of implicit bias to a variety of beha-
vioral outcomes, this reduced activation of automatic associa-
tions should lead to changes in behavior toward the out-group.
Research in our lab is currently examining whether the
reduced implicit bias resulting from mindfulness actually
alters behavior toward the out-group.
A variety of other strategies have been shown to reduce
implicit bias. These strategies, however, typically focus on
creating new associations between the out-group and positive
stimuli (e.g., Dasgupta & Greenwald, 2001; Olson & Fazio,
2006) or more formalized multicultural training (Devine,
Forscher, Austin, & Cox, 2012; Rudman et al., 2001). Ours
is the first study to show a decrease in implicit bias from brief
mindfulness meditation. This meditation was not directed
Lueke and Gibson 5
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specifically toward the remediation of bias or for any purpose
other than to be mindful. For this reason, mindfulness medita-
tion may reduce reactance from people resistant to more direct
prejudice reduction strategies.
While it is important to continue to teach tolerance and
acceptance of other people, automatic processes still exert
tremendous influence in the evaluation and treatment of oth-
ers. Understanding how mindfulness meditation may reduce
these automatic processes would be an important step toward
reducing prejudice and discrimination. The mindfulness tra-
dition is one in which everyone and everything are intercon-
nected. Intergroup bias is in direct opposition to this, and the
automatic component of this bias leads to behaviors that
build boundaries that keep us distant and wary of others. If
the practice of mindfulness can help us overcome these auto-
maticbiases,thenthewords‘Weareheretoawakenfrom
the illusion of our separateness’’ (Thich Nhat Hanh, 2008)
can become a reality.
Acknowledgments
Special thanks to Brad Bushman, Judy Gibson, and Kyle Scherr for
their insight and critiques on prior versions of this article. Their per-
spectives all led to a more comprehensive and thoughtful article. Also,
thanks to Jacob Ward for single handedly taking care of the entirety of
data collection with dedication and enthusiasm.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship,
and/or publication of this article.
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Author Biographies
Adam Lueke is a recent PhD graduate from Central Michigan Univer-
sity, USA. He studies mindfulness, attitude malleability, and brand/
stereotyping priming effects.
Bryan Gibson is a professor of psychology at Central Michigan Uni-
versity, USA. He studies media psychology, attitude formation, and
consumer psychology.
8Social Psychological and Personality Science
at CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIV on November 25, 2014spp.sagepub.comDownloaded from
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... Research also supports the utility of mindfulness in combating prejudice and bias (Lueke & Gibson, 2015) while facilitating multicultural competency (Campbell et al., 2018). Lueke and Gibson (2015) found positive effects of a mindfulness intervention on reducing implicit race and age biases among White college students. In addition, Lillis & Hayes (2007) found that the use of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a technique involving mindful awareness, has shown to reduce reported levels of prejudice. ...
... However, other mindfulness facets (e.g., nonjudging and nonreacting) were found to be significant, but were not in the hypothesized direction. These findings though unexpected, were perhaps not surprising, given the mixed results of mindfulness within the past literature (Lueke & Gibson, 2015). The lack of relationship between the mindfulness total score and CBRI is also supported by the findings of Lenes' (2018) study. ...
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... Research also supports the utility of mindfulness in combating prejudice and bias (Lueke & Gibson, 2015) while facilitating multicultural competency (Campbell et al., 2018). Lueke and Gibson (2015) found positive effects of a mindfulness intervention on reducing implicit race and age biases among White college students. In addition, Lillis & Hayes (2007) found that the use of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a technique involving mindful awareness, has shown to reduce reported levels of prejudice. ...
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... Even when people endorse egalitarian attitudes and object to prejudice, implicit attitudinal biases may have downstream consequences for biased intergroup behavior (Devine, 1989). Lueke and Gibson (2015) found that among self-identifying White individuals, brief mindfulness training, relative to a narrative control, predicted lower implicit race bias toward Black individuals. Follow-up analyses indicated that mindfulness reduced implicit bias because of attenuated automatic activation of conditioned Black/bad associations. ...
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... Studies of mindfulness practices that enable the expansion and concentration of awareness, between non-conceptual and conceptual states have been shown to increase physician empathy and the ability to relate to patients (Krasner et al., 2009). Similarly, many guided meditation practices are demonstrated to decrease unconscious biases around age, race, health, and wealth (Burgess et al., 2017;Kang et al., 2014;Lueke & Gibson, 2015;Morley et al., 2019;Polinska, 2018;Stell & Farsides, 2016). Conversely, conceptual processing alone-that is without the aid of intuition-is shown to bias information through ego or self-concern (Leary, 2004;Lyddy et al., 2016;Watkins, 2008). ...
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This chapter highlights current research on the problem of prejudice among children, adolescents, and adults. Its manifestations, developmental patterns, health consequences, and solutions are discussed. A substantial body of evidence documents that prejudice persists in myriad forms among children, youth, and adults despite widely accepted norms regarding diversity and equality. Intergroup bias has early roots and children's attitudes are deeply responsive to their social environments. People who are targeted by prejudice are at an elevated risk for a host of mental and physical health challenges for both structural and psychological reasons. Interventions to promote intergroup respect among children and those professionals who work with them are reviewed. There is qualified support for the use of carefully structured intergroup contact, diversity and anti-bias education, cognitive practices, and more general supports for personal and community health. To be most effective, these initiatives need to be coupled with social justice work and implemented by those who themselves appreciate equity and diversity. Parents and professionals who work with children have an opportunity to harness and cultivate their early prosocial leanings before the roots prejudice take hold. Finally, some of the initiatives to challenge prejudice and promote respect backed by psychological research are compatible with supports for public health more broadly.
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