Mindfulness meditation reduces guilt and prosocial reparation

J Pers Soc Psychol. 2022 Jul;123(1):28-54. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000298. Epub 2021 Dec 23.

Abstract

The present research investigates whether and how mindfulness meditation influences the guilt-driven tendency to repair harm caused to others. Through a series of eight experiments (N > 1,400), we demonstrate that state mindfulness cultivated via focused-breathing meditation can dampen the relationship between transgressions and the desire to engage in reparative prosocial behaviors. Experiment 1 showed that induced state mindfulness reduced state guilt. Experiments 2a-2c found that induced state mindfulness reduced the willingness to engage in reparative behaviors in normally guilt-inducing situations. Experiments 3a and 3b found that guilt mediated the negative effect of mindfulness meditation on prosocial reparation. Experiment 4 demonstrated that induced state mindfulness weakened the link between a transgression and reparative behavior, as well as documented the mediating role of guilt over and above other emotions. Finally, in Experiment 5, we found that loving kindness meditation led to significantly more prosocial reparation than focused-breathing meditation, mediated by increased other-focus and feelings of love. We discuss theoretical and practical implications. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Emotions
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Meditation* / psychology
  • Mindfulness*