Enhancing Empathy: Might Mindfulness of the Self Extend to Others?
Degree awarded: M.A. Psychology. American University
Evidence suggests mindfulness enhances empathy. This study aimed to identify relationships between mindfulness facets and empathic processes and to explore possible mediators of these relationships. Participants completed mindfulness and empathy questionnaires and a performance measure of empathic accuracy. Mindful observing and describing were positively related to empathic concern. Most facets of mindfulness were positively related to perspective taking and inversely related to personal distress, with the latter relationship partially mediated by brooding and fear of emotion. Nonreactivity related to empathic accuracy in the opposite direction as hypothesized. This study suggests most mindfulness facets are related positively with perspective-taking while nonreactivity relates inversely to empathic accuracy. Though findings are limited by the cross-sectional design, mindful observing may be important for the enhancement of empathic concern while all mindfulness facets aside from observing may serve to reduce distress perhaps in part by reducing brooding and fear of emotion.