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date: 30 March 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Ego-based functioning is underscored by a sense of separateness of oneself from other people. This apparent separateness can manifest in maladaptive behavior, particularly in interpersonal contexts when the sense of self is threatened, and can inhibit adaptive, prosocial responses that depend on perceived interpersonal connection. This chapter draws on the science of mindfulness to show how mindful attention can attenuate distress and defensive responses to socially derived threats to the egoic self and promote greater social inclusiveness. It describes how mindfulness can reduce ego-involvement through an observant stance on self-relevant mental events and discusses empirical evidence demonstrating that mindfulness fosters more benign responses to social threats, including social exclusion and social evaluation, and catalyzes greater social inclusiveness, reflected in prosocial action. The chapter closes by addressing concerns about the potential interpersonal costs of mindfulness and offering directions for further research in this nascent area of investigation.

Keywords: self-as-subject, self-as-object, mindfulness, separateness, ego-involvement, social exclusion, social evaluation, social inclusiveness, empathy, prosocial action

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