Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Mental State Attribution and Empathizing

Lucy B. G. Tan*, Barbara C. Y. Lo, C. Neil Macrae

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


The ability to infer and understand the mental states of others (i.e., Theory of Mind) is a cornerstone of human interaction. While considerable efforts have focused on explicating when, why and for whom this fundamental psychological ability can go awry, considerably less is known about factors that may enhance theory of mind. Accordingly, the current study explored the possibility that mindfulness-based meditation may improve people's mindreading skills. Following a 5-minute mindfulness induction, participants with no prior meditation experience completed tests that assessed mindreading and empathic understanding. The results revealed that brief mindfulness meditation enhanced both mental state attribution and empathic concern, compared to participants in the control group. These findings suggest that mindfulness may be a powerful technique for facilitating core aspects of social-cognitive functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110510
Number of pages5
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2014


  • mind
  • mechanisms
  • attention
  • autism


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