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Effective emotion regulation is important for high-quality social functioning. Recent laboratory-based evidence suggests that mindfulness may enhance emotion regulation in socioemotional contexts; however, little is known about mindful emotion regulation during in vivo social interactions. In a study of romantic couples, we assessed each partner's mindfulness and top-down attentional efficiency (with an Emotional Go/No-Go task) prior to sampling emotions and perceived connection with others during day-to-day social interactions. Analyses revealed that mindfulness-related differences in top-down attentional efficiency on the Emotional Go/No-Go predicted positive emotion during daily social interactions. In turn, positive emotion and two additional indices of social emotion regulation each mediated the relation between actor mindfulness and perceived social connection. In corresponding analyses, neither trait reappraisal nor suppression use predicted the outcomes, and all mindfulness relations held controlling for these strategies. Findings support a framework for investigating mindfulness and higher-quality social functioning, for which mindful emotion regulation may be key.
Four studies tested the proposition that mindfulness and its training fostered prosociality toward ostracized strangers. In discovery Study 1, dispositional mindfulness predicted greater empathic concern for, and more helping behavior toward, an ostracized stranger. Using an experimental design, Study 2 revealed that very briefly instructed mindfulness, relative to active control instructions, also promoted prosocial responsiveness to an ostracized stranger. Study 3 ruled out alternative explanations for this effect of mindfulness, showing that it did not promote empathic anger or perpetrator punishment, nor that the control training reduced prosocial responsiveness toward an ostracized stranger rather than mindfulness increasing it. Study 4 further ruled out the alternative explanation of relaxation in the experimental effects of mindfulness. In all studies, empathic concern mediated the relation between mindfulness and one or both of the helping behavior outcomes. Meta-analyses of the four studies revealed stable, medium sized effects of mindfulness instruction on prosocial emotions and prosocial behavior. Together these findings inform about circumstances in which mindfulness may increase prosocial responsiveness, and deepen our understanding of the motivational bases of prosociality.