About the project

Mindful gratitude meditation as an intervention to address collective narcissists hostility in the face of intergroup exclusion

he proposed research addresses a timely need to find ways of preventing political radicalization among members of marginalized social groups. It examines whether mindful gratitude meditation - the practice of grateful appreciation of the present moment – reduces aggression among people who use aggression to retaliate to exclusion in intergroup relations i.e. collective narcissists. Collective narcissism is an emotional investment in a belief in greatness of one’s own group (ingroup) contingent on external validation. Collective narcissists retaliate aggressively to intergroup threat to protect the vulnerable sense of self-worth invested in their group’s image. Mindful practice of prosocial emotions fortifies against self-vulnerability, improves self-regulation, and reduces reactivity to threat. As such, it may be particularly effective in addressing self-regulation deficits underlying collective narcissism.

Research project methodology

We plan a series of experimental studies to test a model in which collective narcissism is a moderator of the effect of experimentally induced intergroup (vs. interpersonal) exclusion (vs. inclusion, using the Cyberball paradigm for intergroup contexts, Wirth & Williams, 2009) on intergroup aggression (assessed in the Taylor Aggression Paradigm as white noise blast, Chester, 2017; or as symbolic aggression in the Voodoo Doll task, Chester & DeWall, 2016; or by self-report measures). In this model, distress is a continuous mediator assessed by self-report measures and as activation of social pain and resilience circuits in the brain (in an fMRI study) combined with variability in the heart rate and respiratory patterns (respiratory sinus arrhythmia), cortisol reactivity or pupil dilation (in an eye-tracker study). The studies assess distress by self-report and by its physiological and neural signatures because previous research indicated that narcissists do not report (and possibly do not acknowledge) the distress they experience after social exclusion as indicated by physiological and neural assessments (Cascio, et al., 2015). This model will be tested among participants who took part (vs. control) in mindful gratitude meditation before experiencing exclusion. Additionally, effectiveness of mindful gratitude meditation will be compared to mindful attention practice, gratitude practice (without mindfulness, assessed by the diary method), and known methods of reducing aggression among individual narcissists (self-affirmation) and reducing intergroup hostility (imagined intergroup contact). In addition, long-term effects of mindful gratitude meditation would be examined in a 12 weeks intervention study with four measurement points. Expected impact of the research project on the development of science: In the context of the global terrorism threat, one of the vital challenges of social sciences is understanding ways of preventing radicalization of people who may feel their group is marginalized in intergroup relations. Members of such radicalized groups score high on the Collective Narcissism Scale (Jaśko, et al., 2017). Thus, the planned research can have a significant impact on development of social sciences allowing us to better understand the psycho-physiological mechanism underlying collective narcissistic aggression in face of intergroup exclusion and ways of constructively down-regulating this mechanism. This knowledge will be also of use in integrating and multi-cultural Europe, where the issue of maintaining harmonious and productive intergroup relations is fundamental especially, while it faces the refugee crisis and needs to rapidly address psychological consequences of social marginalization. In addition, neither the effectiveness of mindfulness as a method of aggression reduction, nor the effectiveness of other methods of reducing intergroup aggression have been sufficiently examined among people prone to prejudice and intergroup aggression such as collective narcissists. The project is based on the cutting edge research on collective narcissism, neural and physiological correlates of distress of social exclusion and the role of mindfulness and prosocial emotionality in reducing distress.

Here you can find various research materials we use in the project.