Prosocial Outcomes of Mindfulness for College Students in terms of Game Theory



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Mindfulness is a way of life that advocates for non-judgemental awareness and acceptance of both the internal and external self in the present moment (Kabat-Zinn, 2003). The incorporation of mindfulness and associated practices is increasing in public service fields such as healthcare and education (Kabat-Zinn, 2003; Smith et al., 2020). The reason for this is that mindfulness is correlated with sustained behavioral changes that suggest increased prosocial action, improved health, and an overall positive life outlook (Fredrickson et al., 2008). These changes could greatly benefit college students who experience chronic stress and as a result have deteriorating mental health and academic performance (Bamber and Schneider, 2016). In particular, the loving-kindness meditation “a mindful practice aimed at cultivating benevolence” is linked with the broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions in that the meditation leads to an increase in positive emotions such as compassion, contentment, and empathy (Fredrickson et al., 2008). Research is limited, however, on the direct role of mindful meditations on social behavior (Sun et al., 2015). The proposed study will evaluate the role of loving-kindness meditations on interpersonal decision-making through a randomized controlled experiment with college students. This study will be conducted, with the exception of recruitment, through an app developed in-house. This app will randomly assign participants to an 8-week meditation program and monitor weekly participation as well as promote engagement through a token system.