Kim Lien van der Schans
Mindful social inferences: decentering instructions influencing hostile attributions of ambiguous social situations
In the current project, we investigated whether mindfulness can benefit social behaviour. Specifically, we assessed whether an element of mindfulness – decentering – decreases hostile attributions of ambiguous social situations. Based on related research in the domain of eating behaviour (Papies, Custers & Barsalou, 2012; Papies et al., 2015), we hypothesized that decentering from experiences – seeing them as mental events that arise and disappear – hampers the development of full blown hostile attributions and urges. Previous research has already indicated that trait mindfulness is negatively related to hostile attributions of ambiguous social situations (Heppner et al., 2008). In the current project, we built on these previous studies by assessing whether a short state decentering instruction in a laboratory setting decreases hostile attributions of ambiguous social situations as presented with vignettes in comparison to an immersion control instruction. Restuls of a pilot study and a high-powered study suggest that decentering can decrease hostile attribution in response to ambiguous social vignettes. Furthermore, decentering may buffer the relation between ruminative disposition and hostile attributions. Theoretical implications and next steps will be discussed.