ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (6): 1294-1302.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.01294

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The role of mindfulness in alleviating ostracism

CHEN Jing1,2, WANG Yuzheng1,2,3, WANG Jinyan1,2, LUO Fei1,2()   

  1. 1CAS Key Laboratory of Mental Health, Institute of Psychology, Beijing 100101, China
    2Department of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3Shanghai Key Laboratory of Mental Health and Psychological Crisis Intervention, School of Psychology and Cognitive Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
  • Received:2021-08-25 Online:2022-06-15 Published:2022-04-26
  • Contact: LUO Fei


Ostracism (i.e., the phenomenon of being rejected or neglected by an individual or a group) brings suffering to individuals. Mindfulness is conducive to emotional regulation and coping with stress, which may play a beneficial role in alleviating ostracism. From three perspectives (target, source, and observer) and three time points (before, during, and after the occurrence of ostracism), a series of questions about whether, when, and how mindfulness can play a role in ostracism were analyzed in detail and summarized as a model relating mindfulness and ostracism. This model demonstrates that before ostracism occurs, from the perspective of the source, awareness of the present may help to reduce the ostracism caused by the neglect of an individual. Some ostracism is aimed to express aggression towards the relationship. The effective emotional management and good communication brought about by mindfulness may help to deal with interpersonal relationships in a less exclusive way. From the perspective of the target, mindfulness may alleviate anxiety and overreaction to potential rejection. After ostracism occurs, mindfulness may not only reduce the rumination of ostracism but also may promote positive reappraisal, which help to alleviate the pain due to being ostracized. From the perspective of the observer, paying attention to the present may help the individual to identify the occurrence of ostracism and to provide helpful behaviors. Increasing the level of empathy and positive emotions may also be the mechanism by which mindfulness promotes prosocial behaviors. During the occurrence of ostracism, mindful targets are more likely to have high-quality communication with the source, which may reduce the possibility of exacerbation.
Although the current research was rich in content, there were still some limitations. First of all, relatively few studies from the perspective of the target were identified. Future research needs to consider creating new paradigms or measurement methods to record ostracism behaviors objectively and to examine whether trait mindfulness and mindfulness intervention can reduce ostracism behaviors, which will reduce the negative impact of ostracism from the root cause. In addition, relevant research on the dynamic interactions between the target and the source during ostracism is scarce. Second, from the perspective of research quality, the current research methods mainly involve cross-sectional questionnaires, which lack objectivity and can only make relevant inferences. At the same time, there are relatively few randomized controlled intervention studies, and it is difficult to clarify the magnitude of the benefits of mindfulness on ostracism. Third, the boundary conditions for the benefits of mindfulness on ostracism need to be further clarified. Research on individual differences and negative outcome categories is an entry point for future studies related to mindfulness and ostracism.
In summary, many studies have explored the role of mindfulness in stressful situations, but its role in ostracism has only just begun to be investigated. More research in the future is needed to help understand the relationship between mindfulness and ostracism more comprehensively.

Key words: mindfulness, ostracism, sources, targets, observers

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