Mindful love: the role of mindfulness in willingness to sacrifice in romantic relationships
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date05/12/2023
INTRODUCTION: The well-being of romantic relationships often depends on the degree to which partners are able to sacrifice their own interests to meet each other’s needs when necessary. While enacted sacrifices are not always beneficial, one’s willingness to sacrifice (WTS) has been consistently linked to greater relationship satisfaction and personal well-being. One factor that may contribute to WTS is mindfulness, the non-reactive and non-judgmental attention to and awareness of present-moment experiences. Mindfulness is known to predict several positive relationship outcomes (e.g., relationship quality, forgiveness). Accordingly, mindfulness may promote WTS through lower relationship ambivalence (RA; the extent to which one holds simultaneously positive and negative attitudes towards one’s partner/relationship) and higher commitment (the extent to which one intends to persist in one’s relationship). Prior research has demonstrated that mindfulness is negatively correlated with general attitudinal ambivalence and positively correlated with relationship commitment. Commitment, while being negatively linked to ambivalence, is also a robust predictor of pro-relationship behaviours, including sacrifice. However, no prior study has systematically investigated the cross-sectional or longitudinal links between these variables in tandem. AIM: Guided by the interdependence theory and theoretical models of mindfulness and relationships, this thesis investigates the link between mindfulness and WTS and examines whether RA and commitment uniquely or jointly mediate this link. METHOD: Studies 1-2 used an exploratory-confirmatory approach to investigate whether RA and/or commitment may mediate the mindfulness-WTS association in response to hypothetical scenarios. Studies 3-6 tested whether experimentally enhanced mindfulness predicted greater hypothetical (Study 3, 6) and actual (Studies 4-5) WTS through RA and commitment. Study 7 was a 5-week longitudinal study investigating the prospective effect of mindfulness on hypothetical WTS through RA and commitment. RESULTS: Studies 1-2 both revealed a significant indirect association between higher mindfulness and greater WTS, which occurred sequentially through lower RA and then higher commitment. This serial mediation model was replicated in Study 3, but not in Study 4-7. Although the links involving mindfulness and those involving WTS were more tenuous across studies, RA was consistently negatively linked to commitment in all studies. DISCUSSION: This research provides mixed evidence for the notion that mindfulness predicts WTS in relationships. The inconsistent findings across the experimental studies also illuminate the possibility that the factors that precede individuals’ hypothetical versus actual WTS may be different. Results from the longitudinal study further suggest that the links between mindfulness, RA, commitment, and WTS may sometimes be overestimated from cross-sectional data. The consistent RA-commitment association introduces promising directions for future relationship studies. Taken together, these findings offer novel insight into interdependence theory and models of mindfulness and relationships by outlining and explaining the somewhat limited and inconsistent prospective influence of mindfulness on WTS.