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18-03-2019 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 8/2019

Mindfulness 8/2019

Appreciative Joy Meditation Enhances Acceptance of Unfair Offer in Ultimatum Game

Mindfulness > Uitgave 8/2019
Gary Ting Tat Ng, Derek Chun Kiu Lai, Xianglong Zeng, Tian Po Oei
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-019-01139-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Empirical studies have shown that the Four Immeasurables Meditations (FIM) can enhance compassionate decisions towards others, such as helping victims being treated unfairly in economic games. However, research investigating how FIM affects individuals’ decisions when they themselves are victims is sparse. Thus, the current study utilized a randomized trial to scrutinize the causal influence of practicing FIM on people’s reactions towards unfairness that is directed at them.


Meditation novices (N = 135) were randomly assigned to practice either a brief Appreciative Joy Meditation (AJM) or a matched neutral visualization. They then took part in the Ultimatum Game where they first acted as a proposer to propose an offer to another person, then acted as a responder to decide whether to accept a set of offers.


The AJM group accepted significantly more unfair offers, but neither proposed a higher offer to others nor changed the perception of fairness, as compared with the neutral visualization control group. Furthermore, self-reported emotional changes during meditation practice could not predict behavior in the Ultimatum Game, but the Self-Transcendence dimension of the Appreciative Joy Scale, which reflects one’s ability to feel happy for others when one is in an inferior situation, predicted higher acceptance rate of unfair offers.


This study provided a piece of causal evidence that a brief practice of AJM can make people more tolerable to unfairness directed against them. Broadly, this study also inspired more investigations on attitudes towards people in superior situations in future studies on FIM.

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