Author ORCID Identifier


Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Kirk Warren Brown

Second Advisor

Daniel R. Berry

Third Advisor

Kaprea Johnson


As opposed to the tendency to empathize with and help one’s in-group members, there are often barriers to responding altruistically toward out-group members. Little is known about people’s capacity to cultivate intergroup prosocial responses through contemplative practices. This experiment examined the role of mindfulness instruction in parochial empathy and prosocial behavior toward an out-group, relative to compassion and relaxation instruction. A national sample of U.S. residents (N = 450) was recruited online through the on-line Prolific platform. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three brief, structurally equivalent instruction conditions: mindfulness meditation, compassion meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation. Parochial empathy was measured using self-report responses to hypothetical scenarios and prosocial behavior was assessed toward an Arab out-group using three behavioral measures (i.e., out-group altruism, support for outgroup immigration, and support for an outgroup cause). Parochial empathy was not shown to be a better predictor than trait empathy in predicting out-group prosocial behavior. No differences between training conditions were shown for support for out-group immigration nor support for out-group cause. There were differences between conditions on parochial empathy and out-group altruism. The mindfulness group and compassion group showed less parochial empathy than the relaxation control group. The mindfulness group showed greater out-group altruism than the relaxation control group.


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