Mindfulness meditation helps make smarter choices

Updated: Feb 13, 2014, 20:56 PM IST

Washington: Focused breathing meditation for just 15 minutes may help people make smarter choices, researchers at INSEAD and the Wharton School have found.
Andrew Hafenbrack, lead author said that most people have trouble admitting they were wrong when their initial decisions lead to undesirable outcomes and they don`t want to feel wasteful or that their initial investment was a loss.
Ironically, this kind of thinking often causes people to waste or lose more resources in an attempt to regain their initial investment or try to break even.
Hafenbrack and co-authors was found that mindfulness meditation, which cultivates awareness of the present moment and clears the mind of other thoughts, may help to counteract this deep-rooted bias.
He explained that a brief period of mindfulness meditation can encourage people to make more rational decisions by considering the information available in the present moment, while ignoring some of the other concerns that typically exacerbate the sunk cost bias.

In one online study, participants reported about how much they typically focus on the present moment and also read 10 sunk-cost and then reported how much they would let go of sunk costs in each of them.
The results revealed that the more people typically focused on the present moment, the more they reported that they would ignore sunk costs.
To test whether mindfulness caused an increased resistance to the sunk-cost bias, the researchers conducted an additional three experiments.
The participants listened to a 15-minute recording made by a professional mindfulness coach.
For one group of participants, the recording led them through a focused-breathing meditation that repeatedly instructed them to focus on the sensations of breathing.
The other group of participants listened to a recording that asked them to think of whatever comes to mind, a practice that is not a form of meditation.
The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.