Mindfulness Key to Transcending Anger & Fear, Says Study
People who have greater levels of mindfulness – the ability to keep attention on the present moment – are better able to cope with negative emotions and social rejection, according to a new study led by a team of Virginia Commonwealth University researchers.
Researchers from VCU, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Kentucky were curious to discover if mindfulness could be a buffer against the anger and pain of social rejection
“Our findings suggest that mindful people are not as distressed or pained by social rejection,” the researchers wrote.
“The neural results imply that a reason for mindful individuals’ adaptive responses to rejection is that they do not excessively recruit (and therefore tax) ‘top-down’, inhibitory brain regions to inhibit social distress.
“Instead, mindful individuals may use more ‘bottom-up’ emotion-regulation strategies that prevent rejection from being distressing in the first place.
“Interventions that seek to help socially-isolated and rejected individuals may benefit from this mechanistic and biologically-informed information.”
The study’s findings are relevant to the Social Psychology and Neuroscience Lab’s mission, Martelli said, because they further understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms of aggression and violence within interpersonal relationships.
“An over-reliance on top-down emotion-regulation strategies can result in self-regulatory failure,” Martelli said. “Therefore, more bottom-up strategies, such as mindfulness, may be effective at regulating difficult emotions such as anger or frustration that typically result in violent or aggressive acts.”