Practicing Mindfulness Reduces Bias

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Mindfulness training can reduce the biases one has according to a new paper published today in Nature. The researchers had a control group which was given a bias test but received no mindfulness training, the other group got training and then tested. The results are clear: being mindful can reduce one’s bias.

In a study testing whether mindfulness decreases cognitive biases, respondents answered 22 standard cognitive bias questions to measure susceptibility to the endowment effect, overconfidence, mental accounting, anchoring, loss aversion, and 17 other biases, as well as the 14 questions of the Langer mindfulness survey (LMS), measuring the traits of novelty-seeking, novelty producing, and engagement. A portion of the respondents were randomly pre-assigned to a condition that induced mindfulness. On 19 of the 22 biases, those induced to be mindful were less likely to show the bias. They also scored higher on 11 of the 14 LMS questions. The method by which we induced mindfulness was unrelated to the context of the later questions, involving image comparisons and standard Langerian instructions to notice three new things. People can boost their decision-making abilities merely by increasing their mindfulness, with no need for meditation, psychological training, or statistical education.

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