The Impact of Mindfulness on Empathy, Active Listening, and Perceived Provisions of Emotional Support

Susanne M. Jones, Graham D. Bodie, Sam D. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mindfulness has emerged as an important factor that assists people in regulating difficult emotions, but it is not yet known whether mindfulness plays a role in supportive communication. The current study examines whether mindfulness facets (describing, observing, nonjudging, aware acting, nonreacting) positively influence self-reported abilities to (a) discern more and less person-centered (PC) supportive messages and (b) facilitate reappraisals via two core cognitive factors, namely, empathy and active listening. College students with little or no meditation experience (N = 183) completed an online survey. Mediation analyses showed that empathy and active listening partially mediated the relationship between two mindfulness facets (describing, observing) and the two perceptual outcome measures (PC message discriminations, facilitating reappraisals) by accounting for 33% and 62% of the variance. Additional structural equation modeling suggested that mindful observing and describing positively predicted empathy and active listening. Both mindful describing and nonjudging also positively predicted facilitating reappraisals. Interestingly, nonjudging negatively predicted empathy and active listening. The results point to mindfulness as an important factor that influences cognitive-affective processes in supportive communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)838-865
Number of pages28
JournalCommunication Research
Volume46
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Graham D. Bodie (PhD, Purdue University) is a professor of communication studies at The Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College, Baton Rouge, LA. His research on supportive listening and conversations has appeared in Communication Monographs, Communication Research, and Communication Theory and has been funded by the National Science Foundation’s EBSCOR program through the Louisiana Board of Regents.

Funding Information:
Sam D. Hughes (BA, University of Minnesota) is a graduate student in social psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA. His research focuses on the psychology of atypical sexual desires and behaviors and has been funded by the Chancellor’s Fellowship through the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2016.

Keywords

  • emotional support
  • facilitating reappraisal
  • mindfulness
  • person-centered support

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