Does your mindfulness benefit others? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the link between mindfulness and prosocial behaviour

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Abstract

Mindfulness-based meditation practices have received substantial scientific attention in recent years. Mindfulness has been shown to bring many psychological benefits to the individual, but much less is known about whether these benefits extend to others. This meta-analysis reviewed the link between mindfulness – as both a personality variable and an intervention – and prosocial behaviour. A literature search produced 31 eligible studies (N = 17,241) and 73 effect sizes. Meta-analyses were conducted using mixed-effects structural equation models to examine pooled effects and potential moderators of these effects. We found a positive pooled effect between mindfulness and prosocial behaviour for both correlational (d = .73 CI 95% [0.51 to 0.96]) and intervention studies (d = .51 CI 95% [0.37 to 0.66]). For the latter, medium-sized effects were obtained across varying meditation types and intensities, and across gender and age categories. Preliminary evidence is presented regarding potential mediators of these effects. Although we found that mindfulness is positively related to prosociality, further research is needed to examine the mediators of this link and the contexts in which it is most pronounced.

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