The effects of a school-based mindfulness programme (Paws b) on empathy and prosocial behaviour: a randomised controlled trial

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Abstract

Objectives - The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a school-based mindfulness programme (SBMP), “Paws b”, on empathy and prosocial behaviour among children aged 7 to 10 years in a school setting.

Method - This multi-informant design, randomised controlled trial compared an intervention group to a wait-list control group, involving 133 children aged 7- to 10 years from 10 classrooms. Outcome measures were taken at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and 3-month follow-up and included self-reports of mindfulness and empathy, a sharing task, teacher and peer reports of prosocial behaviours, and sociometry measures.

Results - Children in the intervention group were voted as significantly more (a) prosocial by teachers F(1, 127) = 7.35, p = 0.008, η2 = 0.055, (b) helpful by peers, F(1, 127) = 9.369, p < 0.003, η2 = 0.069, (c) popular by peers, F(1, 127) = 4.90, p = 0.028, η2 = 0.037, and (d) showed more reciprocal relationships, t(8) = 2.518, p = 0.036, compared to the wait-list control group. The intervention did not have an effect on mindfulness scores, empathy scores (affective, cognitive, or intention to comfort), or sharing task scores.

Conclusions - Findings suggest that, for 7–10-year-olds, the SBMP, Paws b, delivered by a mindfulness teacher, can increase some aspects of prosociality, as judged by peers and teachers, but has no effect on self-assessed empathy.

Preregistration - This study was preregistered on the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/vm6tp/) on 31.10.2022.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMindfulness
Early online date11 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 11 Apr 2024

Keywords

  • Prosocial behaviour
  • Empathy
  • School-based mindfulness programme
  • Primary school
  • Randomised controlled trial

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