ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (4): 626-641.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.00626

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Do not think any virtue trivial, and thus neglect it: Mindfulness and wisdom − Serial mediating role of social mindfulness and perspective taking

WANG Yimeng1,2, ZHANG Jingmin1, WANG Fengyan1,2(), XU Wentao2, LIU Weiting3   

  1. 1School of Psychology, Nanjing Normal University; Institute ofMoral Education Research, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210097, China
    3School of Nursing, Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei 10369, China
  • Published:2023-04-25 Online:2022-12-30
  • Contact: WANG Fengyan


Mindfulness has roots in Eastern Buddhism and is generally defined as focusing one’s complete attention to experiences occurring in the present moment in a nonjudgmental or accepting way. The objective of mindfulness intervention is to first understand current experiences then gradually develop self-awareness and wisdom. Moreover, following Buddhist ethics, mindfulness predicts wisdom, which is linked with emphasis on individualized moral foundations of care, empathy, benevolence, and so on. Social mindfulness, as a positive quality and state behavior of mindful attention to others, may potentially affect the influence of mindfulness on wisdom by providing an indirect way to promote the common good (see Figure 1). Moreover, social mindfulness involves minding the needs and interests of others in a way that honors the idea that most people prefer choosing for themselves. Based on this statement, the skill of processing the perspectives of others may lay the foundation for social mindfulness. Therefore, based on the above propositions, the hypothesis that mindfulness positively affects wisdom, mediated by perspective taking and social mindfulness, is proposed in this study (see Figure 2).

Through three studies, the above hypothesis is examined. For Study 1 (n = 417), a self-rated wisdom, mindfulness, and social mindfulness questionnaire is adopted to investigate the link between trait mindfulness, wisdom, and social mindfulness (see Table 1 and Figure 3). For Study 2 (n = 80), data on state mindfulness, social mindfulness, and wisdom are collected at three points using a switching replication experimental design (see Table 2), which further examines the influence of social mindfulness on the link between mindfulness and wisdom at the state level(see Table 3 and Figure 4). For Study 3 (n = 412), social mindfulness is manipulated using the scenario simulation method, and the role of perspective taking is considered, which demonstrates the influence of mindfulness on wisdom through perspective taking and social mindfulness(see Table 4 and Figure 5,6).

Results show multidimensional mindfulness, with awareness and acceptance, is positively correlated with increased social mindfulness and wisdom, thereby verifying the mediating role of social mindfulness. Mindfulness intervention can effectively initiate state mindfulness and simultaneously improve social mindfulness and wisdom within a short period. Manipulated social mindfulness can enhance the positive predicted effect of mindfulness on wisdom and verify the mediating role of social mindfulness. Evidence on the mediating effect of perspective taking and social mindfulness is provided in this study. Specifically, mindful individuals are likely to demonstrate benign attention in interpersonal interactions by perspective taking, thereby constructing a practical path to wisdom.

The theoretical model aims to complement and enrich the burgeoning mindfulness, wisdom, and morality literature. In studies 1 and 2, the main finding (trait and state levels) that mindfulness triggers wisdom is replicated, and the correlation between mindfulness, social mindfulness, and wisdom is explored. A new perspective for improving wisdom is also provided. In summary, mindfulness positively influences wisdom through perspective taking and social mindfulness, thereby suggesting an indirect path from mindfulness to wisdom.

Key words: mindfulness, wisdom, social mindfulness, perspective-taking, Generation Z