Evidence That a Brief Meditation Exercise Can Reduce Prejudice Toward Homeless People

Publication Year
2014

Type

Journal Article
Abstract

Recent research has shown that integrating social and clinical psychological perspectives can be effective when designing prejudiceinterventions, with psychotherapeutic techniques successful at tackling anxiety in intergroup contexts. This research tests whether a single, brief loving-kindness meditation intervention, without containing any reference to the intergroup context, could reduce prejudice. This exercise was selected for its proven positive effects on mental and physical health. We observed that participants who took part in two variations of this meditation exercise (one involving a stranger, the other a homeless person) reported reduced intergroup anxiety, as well as more positive explicit attitudes, and enhanced future contact intentions. We conclude that combining approaches in intergroup relations and psychotherapy could be beneficial to design new interventions to combat prejudice and discrimination. © 2014 Hogrefe Publishing.

Journal
Social Psychology
Volume
45
Pages
458–465
Type of Article
Journal Article
Full text

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Method

Participants and Design [...] The sample consisted of 66 women and 12 men between the ages of 18 and 44 (M = 19.99, SD = 4.41). [...] Participants were randomly allocated to one of three intervention conditions: LKM with a stranger (n = 18) versus LKM with a homeless person (n = 20) versus no LKM, the baseline condition (n = 40). [...]

Procedure Participants were [...] randomly assigned to one of the three conditions. Participants in the LKM-stranger condition were asked to follow a guided meditation recording which included stages 1 (self), 2 (close person), and 3 (stranger). [...] Participants in the LKM-outgroup condition engaged in the same guided meditation with the only difference that the stranger (stage 3) was replaced by an outgroup member, a homeless person [...] The outcome measures were intergroup anxiety, explicit attitudes, and future contact intentions. [...] Participants in the LKMstranger and the LKM-outgroup condition were compared to a baseline condition in which participants simply completed the dependent measures. [...]

Measures

Positivity The positivity of the LKM experience was assessed by three items on a semantic differential scale ranging from 1 to 7 [...]

Fluency The fluency of the LKM experience was assessed by three items [...]

Attitudes Attitudes toward homeless people were measured were measured by asking participants to describe on six items how they feel about homeless people in general on a semantic differential ranging from 1 to 7 [...]

Intergroup Anxiety Anxiety concerning a future interaction with a homeless person was measured by Stephan and Stephan (1985) scale on 10 items. [...]

Type of Prejudice/Bias
Country
Method