Is There a Dark Side to Mindfulness? Relation of Mindfulness to Criminogenic Cognitions

Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2017 Oct;43(10):1415-1426. doi: 10.1177/0146167217717243. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


In recent years, mindfulness-based interventions have been modified for use with inmate populations, but how this might relate to specific criminogenic cognitions has not been examined empirically. Theoretically, characteristics of mindfulness should be incompatible with distorted patterns of criminal thinking, but is this in fact the case? Among both 259 male jail inmates and 516 undergraduates, mindfulness was inversely related to the Criminogenic Cognitions Scale (CCS) through a latent variable of emotion regulation. However, in the jail sample, this mediational model also showed a direct, positive path from mindfulness to CCS, with an analogous, but nonsignificant trend in the college sample. Post hoc analyses indicate that the Nonjudgment of Self scale derived from the Mindfulness Inventory: Nine Dimensions (MI:ND) largely accounts for this apparently iatrogenic effect in both samples. Some degree of self-judgment is perhaps necessary and useful, especially among individuals involved in the criminal justice system.

Keywords: criminogenic cognitions; emotion regulation; jail inmate; mindfulness; nonjudgment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cognition*
  • Criminals / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness*
  • Thinking
  • Young Adult