This research investigated the debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation on the sunk-cost bias. We conducted four studies (one correlational and three experimental); the results suggest that increased mindfulness reduces the tendency to allow unrecoverable prior costs to influence current decisions. Study 1 served as an initial correlational demonstration of the positive relationship between trait mindfulness and resistance to the sunk-cost bias. Studies 2a and 2b were laboratory experiments examining the effect of a mindfulness-meditation induction on increased resistance to the sunk-cost bias. In Study 3, we examined the mediating mechanisms of temporal focus and negative affect, and we found that the sunk-cost bias was attenuated by drawing one’s temporal focus away from the future and past and by reducing state negative affect, both of which were accomplished through mindfulness meditation.
Kinias, Z., Kim, H. S., Hafenbrack, A. C., & Lee, J. J. (2014). Standing Out as a Signal to Selfishness: Culture and Devaluation of Non-Normative Characteristics. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 124(2):190-203. Download the article
This article proposes and tests a theoretical model articulating when and why differences in devaluation and avoidance of individuals with non-normative characteristics emerge between East Asian and Western cultural contexts. Four studies examined this theoretical model. In a pilot study, relative to Americans, Koreans devalued a target individual with a non-normative characteristic, and in Study 1 the target’s efforts to forestall disruption of group processes eliminated the devaluation in Korea, with perceived selfishness mediating this process. In Study 2, Koreans, relative to Americans, devalued and avoided coworkers with non-normative characteristics, particularly when the non-normative characteristic was controllable. Study 3 further showed that perceived selfishness mediates this effect with a behavioral dependent variable. Study 4 tested the generalizability to positively valenced characteristics and found that Koreans (relative to Americans) also devalue individuals with positive characteristics at non-normative levels. Implications for individuals with non-normative characteristics, organizational diversity, and cross-cultural interaction are discussed.
A longitudinal study found that the psychological approach individuals take when immersed in a general multicultural environment can predict subsequent career success. Using a culturally diverse sample, we found that ‘‘multicultural engagement’’—the extent to which students adapted to and learned about new cultures—during a highly international 10-month master of business administration (MBA) program predicted the number of job offers students received after the program, even when controlling for important personality/demographic variables. Furthermore, multicultural engagement predicted an increase in integrative complexity over the course of the 10-month program, and this increase in integrative complexity mediated the effect of multicultural engagement on job market success. This study demonstrates that even when individuals are exposed to the same multicultural environment, it is their psychological approach and engagement with different cultures that determines growth in integrative complexity and tangible increases in professional opportunities.
This crowdsourced project introduces a collaborative approach to improving the reproducibility of scientific research, in which findings are replicated in qualified independent laboratories before (rather than after) they are published. Our goal is to establish a non-adversarial replication process with highly informative final results. To illustrate the Pre-Publication Independent Replication (PPIR) approach, 25 research groups conducted replications of all ten moral judgment effects which the last author and his collaborators had "in the pipeline" as of August 2014. Six findings replicated according to all replication criteria, one finding replicated but with a significantly smaller effect size than the original, one finding replicated consistently in the original culture but not outside of it, and two findings failed to replicate entirely. In total, 40% of the original findings failed at least one major replication criterion. Potential ways to implement and incentivize pre-publication independent replication on a large scale are discussed.
The coordinators of this project also published the data for re-analysis. A descriptor can be found here:
The present research investigates whether close intercultural relationships promote creativity, workplace innovation, and entrepreneurship—outcomes vital to individual and organizational success. We triangulate on these questions with multiple methods (longitudinal, experimental, and field studies), diverse population samples (MBA students, employees, and professional repatriates), and both laboratory and real-world measures. Using a longitudinal design over a ten-month MBA program, Study 1 found that intercultural dating predicted improved creative performance on both divergent and convergent thinking tasks. Using an experimental design, Study 2 established the causal connection between intercultural dating and creativity: Among participants who had previously had both intercultural and intra-cultural dating experiences, those who reflected on an intercultural dating experience displayed higher creativity compared to those who reflected on an intra-cultural dating experience. Importantly, cultural learning mediated this effect. Extending the first two studies, Study 3 revealed that the duration of past intercultural romantic relationships positively predicted the ability of current employees to generate creative names for marketing products, but the number of past intercultural romantic partners did not. In Study 4, we analyzed an original dataset of 2,226 professional repatriates from 96 countries who had previously worked in the U.S. under J-1 visas: Participants’ frequency of contact with American friends since returning to their home countries positively predicted their workplace innovation and likelihood of becoming entrepreneurs. Going out with a close friend or romantic partner from a foreign culture can help people “go out” of the box and into a creative frame of mind.
Hafenbrack, A. C. (2017). Mindfulness meditation as an on-the-spot workplace intervention. Journal of Business Research, 75; 118-129. Download the article
This article introduces the concept of mindfulness meditation as an on-the-spot intervention to be used in specific workplace situations. It presents a model of when, why, and how on-the-spot mindfulness meditation is likely to be helpful or harmful for aspects of job performance. The article begins with a brief review of the mindfulness literature and a rationale for why mindfulness could be used on-the-spot in the workplace. It then delineates consequences of on-the-spot mindfulness interventions on four aspects of job performance - escalation of commitment, counterproductive work behaviors, negotiation performance, and motivation to achieve goals. The article closes with three necessary conditions for an on-the-spot mindfulness intervention to be effectively used, as well as suggestions for how organizations, managers, and employees can facilitate the fulfillment of these necessary conditions. Possible negative consequences of mindfulness and which types of meditation to use are considered. Taken together, these arguments deepen our understanding of state mindfulness and introduce a new manner in which mindfulness can be used in the workplace.
Hafenbrack, A. C. & Vohs, K. D. (2018). Mindfulness meditation impairs task motivation but not performance.Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 147, 1-15. Download the article
A state of mindfulness is characterized by focused, nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment. The current research experimentally investigated how state mindfulness influences task motivation and performance, using multiple meditation inductions, comparison conditions, tasks, and participant samples. Mindfulness inductions, relative to comparison conditions, reduced motivation to tackle mundane tasks (Experiments 1-4) and pleasant tasks (Experiment 2). Decreased future focus and decreased arousal serially mediated the demotivating effect of mindfulness (Experiments 3 and 4). In contrast to changes in motivation, inducing a state of mindfulness did not affect task performance, as seen in all experiments but one (Experiments 2-5). Meta-analyses of motivation and performance experiments, including unreported findings (i.e., the file drawer), supported these conclusions. Experiment 5’s serial mediation showed that mindfulness enabled people to detach from stressors, which improved task focus. When combined with mindfulness’s demotivating effects, these results help explain why mindfulness does not alter performance.
The present research tested whether mindfulness, a state characterized by focused, nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, increases prosocial behavior in the workplace or work-related contexts. Study 1a was a longitudinal field experiment at a US insurance company. Compared to workers under waitlist control, employees who were assigned to a daily mindfulness training reported more helping behaviors over a five day period both in quantitative surveys and qualitative daily diaries. Study 1b, conducted in a large consulting company in India, extends these findings with a field experiment in which co-workers rated the prosocial behavior of teammates in a round robin design. Moving from devoting time to devoting money, in Study 2a and 2b we find that individuals randomly assigned to engage in a focused breathing meditation were more financially generous. To understand the mechanisms of mindfulness’ effects on prosocial behavior, Study 3 found support for empathy and moderate support for perspective taking as mediators. This study also examined the effects of induced state mindfulness via two different mindfulness inductions, focused breathing and loving kindness meditation. Our results indicate secular state mindfulness can make people more other-oriented and helpful. This benefit holds even in workplace contexts, where being helpful toward others might face constraints but is nevertheless of great importance.
Landy, J. F., Jia, M., Ding, I. L., Viganola, D., Tierney, W., . . . Uhlmann, E. L. (2020). Crowdsourcing hypothesis tests: Making transparent how design choices shape research results. Psychological Bulletin. (member of Crowdsourcing Hypothesis Tests Collaboration)Download the article
To what extent are research results influenced by subjective decisions that scientists make as they design studies? Fifteen research teams independently designed studies to answer five original research questions related to moral judgments, negotiations, and implicit cognition. Participants from two separate large samples (total N > 15,000) were then randomly assigned to complete one version of each study. Effect sizes varied dramatically across different sets of materials designed to test the same hypothesis: materials from different teams rendered statistically significant effects in opposite directions for four out of five hypotheses, with the narrowest range in estimates being d = -0.37 to +0.26. Meta-analysis and a Bayesian perspective on the results revealed overall support for two hypotheses, and a lack of support for three hypotheses. Overall, practically none of the variability in effect sizes was attributable to the skill of the research team in designing materials, while considerable variability was attributable to the hypothesis being tested. In a forecasting survey, predictions of other scientists were significantly correlated with study results, both across and within hypotheses. Crowdsourced testing of research hypotheses helps reveal the true consistency of empirical support for a scientific claim.
Tierney, W., Hardy, J. H., III., Ebersole, C., Viganola, D., Clemente, E., … & Uhlmann, E. L. (2021). A creative destruction approach to replication: Implicit work and sex morality across cultures. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.Download the article
How can we maximize what is learned from a replication study? In the creative destruction approach to replication, the original hypothesis is compared not only to the null hypothesis, but also to predictions derived from multiple alternative theoretical accounts of the phenomenon. To this end, new populations and measures are included in the design in addition to the original ones, to help determine which theory best accounts for the results across multiple key outcomes and contexts. The present pre-registered empirical project compared the Implicit Puritanism account of intuitive work and sex morality to theories positing regional, religious, and social class differences; explicit rather than implicit cultural differences in values; self-expression vs. survival values as a key cultural fault line; the general moralization of work; and false positive effects. Contradicting Implicit Puritanism’s core theoretical claim of a distinct American work morality, a number of targeted findings replicated across multiple comparison cultures, whereas several failed to replicate in all samples and were identified as likely false positives. No support emerged for theories predicting regional variability and specific individual-differences moderators (religious affiliation, religiosity, and education level). Overall, the results provide evidence that work is intuitively moralized across cultures.
This article investigates whether and how mindfulness meditation influences the guilt-driven tendency to repair harm caused to others. Through a series of eight experiments (n > 1400), we demonstrate that state mindfulness cultivated via focused breathing meditation can dampen the relationship between transgressions and the desire to engage in reparative prosocial behaviors. Experiment 1 showed that induced state mindfulness reduced state guilt. Experiments 2a-2c found that induced state mindfulness reduced the willingness to engage in reparative behaviors in normally guilt-inducing situations. Experiments 3a and 3b found that guilt mediated the negative effect of mindfulness meditation on prosocial reparation. Experiment 4 demonstrated that induced state mindfulness weakened the link between a transgression and reparative behavior, as well as documented the mediating role of guilt over and above other emotions. Finally, in Experiment 5, we found that loving kindness meditation led to significantly more prosocial reparation than focused breathing meditation, mediated by increased other focus and feelings of love. We discuss theoretical and practical implications.
Bunjak, A., Hafenbrack, A. C., Černe, M., & Arendt, J. F. W. (2022). Better to Be Optimistic, Mindful, or Both? The Interaction between Optimism, Mindfulness, and Task Engagement. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. Download the article
This paper investigates the relationships between optimism, mindfulness, and task engagement. Specifically, we hypothesized that optimism, mindfulness, and their interaction would facilitate individuals’ task engagement. We tested our research model in four studies: two surveys among gig workers and two experiments. The results of the two surveys among gig workers indicated that optimism predicted higher task engagement, but trait mindfulness did not, and that a multiplicative interaction existed between high optimism and high mindfulness in stimulating task engagement. Our two experiments confirmed a significant interaction between optimism and induced state mindfulness and showed that the most engaging situation is being high in both mindfulness and optimism. Although optimism predicted task engagement, the experiments indicated that the effect of the state mindfulness manipulation was above and beyond that of optimism. Finally, we discuss the nuances of the interaction between optimism and mindfulness in predicting task engagement.
Delios, A., Clemente, E., Wu, T., Tan, H., Wang, Y., …, & Uhlmann, E.L. (2022). Examining the context sensitivity of research findings from archival data. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.(member of Generalizability Tests Forecasting Collaboration) Download the article
This initiative examined systematically the extent to which a large set of archival research findings generalizes across contexts. We repeated the key analyses for 29 original strategic management effects in the same context (direct reproduction) as well as in 52 novel time periods and geographies; 45% of the reproductions returned results matching the original reports together with 55% of tests in different spans of years and 40% of tests in novel geographies. Some original findings were associated with multiple new tests. Reproducibility was the best predictor of generalizability—for the findings that proved directly reproducible, 84% emerged in other available time periods and 57% emerged in other geographies. Overall, only limited empirical evidence emerged for context sensitivity. In a forecasting survey, independent scientists were able to anticipate which effects would find support in tests in new samples.
Increasing racial diversity in organizations remains a challenge, as stereotype threat undermines the performance and career aspirations of minority group members during job recruitment. The present study examines how prospective leaders can leverage their influence on their followers’ identities to mitigate the stereotype threat Black individuals face in this context. We explore the effects of two moral leadership styles (ethical vs. authentic) on stereotype threat in the context of recruitment. Specifically, we investigate whether prospective leaders’ in-group status moderates the relationship between ethical vs. authentic leadership styles and candidates’ stereotype threat during the selection process and candidates’ willingness to join the organization. To this end, we conducted four experiments with Black residents of Brazilian favelas (impoverished neighborhoods), two of which included real-world job recruitment processes and physiological measures of stress (i.e., salivary cortisol and blood pressure). The results indicate that when the prospective leaders are from the outgroup, displaying ethical leadership by relying on community norms is more helpful in reducing Black candidates’ threat and, in turn, promotes willingness to apply for the job. In contrast, when the leader is from the in-group, displaying authentic leadership by emphasizing the importance of an internal moral compass is more helpful in reducing threat, and this effect is mediated by the identity process of inclusion of the leader in the self. Overall, the present study suggests that prospective direct supervisors have the critical ability to reduce stereotype threat, which can negatively affect Black applicants and their desire to join organizations.
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