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      Evidence That a Brief Meditation Exercise Can Reduce Prejudice Toward Homeless People


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          Recent research has shown that integrating social and clinical psychological perspectives can be effective when designing prejudice-interventions, with psychotherapeutic techniques successful at tackling anxiety in intergroup contexts. This research tests whether a single, brief loving-kindness meditation intervention, without containing any reference to the intergroup context, could reduce prejudice. This exercise was selected for its proven positive effects on mental and physical health. We observed that participants who took part in two variations of this meditation exercise (one involving a stranger, the other a homeless person) reported reduced intergroup anxiety, as well as more positive explicit attitudes, and enhanced future contact intentions. We conclude that combining approaches in intergroup relations and psychotherapy could be beneficial to design new interventions to combat prejudice and discrimination.

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          Most cited references15

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          Loving-kindness and compassion meditation: potential for psychological interventions.

          Mindfulness-based meditation interventions have become increasingly popular in contemporary psychology. Other closely related meditation practices include loving-kindness meditation (LKM) and compassion meditation (CM), exercises oriented toward enhancing unconditional, positive emotional states of kindness and compassion. This article provides a review of the background, the techniques, and the empirical contemporary literature of LKM and CM. The literature suggests that LKM and CM are associated with an increase in positive affect and a decrease in negative affect. Preliminary findings from neuroendocrine studies indicate that CM may reduce stress-induced subjective distress and immune response. Neuroimaging studies suggest that LKM and CM may enhance activation of brain areas that are involved in emotional processing and empathy. Finally, preliminary intervention studies support application of these strategies in clinical populations. It is concluded that, when combined with empirically supported treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, LKM and CM may provide potentially useful strategies for targeting a variety of different psychological problems that involve interpersonal processes, such as depression, social anxiety, marital conflict, anger, and coping with the strains of long-term caregiving. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders

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              Can imagined interactions produce positive perceptions? Reducing prejudice through simulated social contact.

              The contact hypothesis states that, under the right conditions, contact between members of different groups leads to more positive intergroup relations. The authors track recent trends in contact theory to the emergence of extended, or indirect, forms of contact. These advances lead to an intriguing proposition: that simply imagining intergroup interactions can produce more positive perceptions of outgroups. The authors discuss empirical research supporting the imagined contact proposition and find it to be an approach that is at once deceptively simple and remarkably effective. Encouraging people to mentally simulate a positive intergroup encounter leads to improved outgroup attitudes and reduced stereotyping. It curtails intergroup anxiety and extends the attribution of perceivers' positive traits to others. The authors describe the advantages and disadvantages of imagined contact compared to conventional strategies, outline an agenda for future research, and discuss applications for policymakers and educators in their efforts to encourage more positive intergroup relations. PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                Social Psychology
                Hogrefe Publishing
                October 2014
                : 45
                : 6
                : 458-465
                [ 1 ] School of Psychology, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK
                [ 2 ] University of Surrey, School of Psychology, Guildford, UK
                [ 3 ] Department of Psychology, The University of Sheffield, UK
                Author notes
                Michèle D. Birtel, University of Surrey, School of Psychology, Room 07 AD 02, Guildford GU2 7XH, United Kingdom, m.birtel@ 123456surrey.ac.uk
                Copyright @ 2014
                : November 18, 2013
                : April 5, 2014
                : April 17, 2014
                Original Article

                Assessment, Evaluation & Research methods,Psychology,General social science,General behavioral science
                prejudice,intergroup contact,intergroup anxiety,mindfulness meditation


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