Mindful attention reduces linguistic intergroup bias

Tincher, M. M., Lebois, L. A.M. and Barsalou, L. W. (2016) Mindful attention reduces linguistic intergroup bias. Mindfulness, 7(2), pp. 349-360. (doi: 10.1007/s12671-015-0450-3)

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A brief mindfulness intervention diminished bias in favor of one’s in-group and against one’s out-group. In the linguistic intergroup bias (LIB), individuals expect in-group members to behave positively and out-group members to behave negatively. Consequently, individuals choose abstract language beset with character inferences to describe these expected behaviors, and in contrast, choose concrete, objective language to describe unexpected behaviors. Eighty-four participants received either mindful attention instructions (observe their thoughts as fleeting mental states) or immersion instructions (become absorbed in the vivid details of thoughts). After instruction, participants viewed visual depictions of an imagined in-group or out-group member’s positive or negative behavior, selecting the best linguistic description from a set of four descriptions that varied in abstractness. Immersion groups demonstrated a robust LIB. Mindful attention groups, however, exhibited a markedly tempered LIB, suggesting that even a brief mindfulness related instruction can implicitly reduce the propensity to perpetuate stereotypical thinking through language. These results contribute to understanding the mechanisms that facilitate unprejudiced thinking.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Barsalou, Professor Lawrence
Authors: Tincher, M. M., Lebois, L. A.M., and Barsalou, L. W.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Journal Name:Mindfulness
ISSN (Online):1868-8535
Published Online:15 October 2015

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