The Effects of Mindfulness Meditations on Objectivity in Implicit Associations and Perceptions of Animacy

Mindfulness is defined as a state of non-judgmental awareness with focus on the present moment. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce reactivity to emotional stimuli, stimuli that are perceived as threatening, and stimuli associated with personal biases, and mindfulness can increase objectivity during the perception of various external stimuli. Both lovingkindness and awareness of breathing mindfulness practices have been shown to reduce biases and automatic associations, as well as decrease subjectivity of perception; however, these two forms of mindfulness meditation have not been studied together in objectivity of perception tasks. In the present study, objectivity of perception was assessed implicitly using the Implicit Association Test (IAT) for age, and explicitly by content analyzing descriptions of a film clip of geometric shapes changing speed and direction in an apparent non-random manner. It was hypothesized that, when compared to a control condition, participants receiving mindfulness instructions would have reduced reaction time scores on the IAT and fewer subjective descriptions of the film. Reaction time scores and proportion of literal film descriptions were also compared between the two mindfulness conditions. Overall, support for the hypotheses that mindfulness would increase objectivity for visual perception was not found. Participants in the lovingkindness condition showed a significant reduction in implicit bias when compared to the awareness of breathing group.