How to enhance moral reasoning of students and working professionals to make them behave more ethically? According to researchers from IIT Bombay and IIM Ahmedabad, the answer to this question, at least partially, lies in enhancing mindfulness of managers and students with mindfulness meditation methods. Mindfulness, as described in Buddhism, refers to an individual’s state of mind, representing awareness of and attention to the inner experience and manifest actions. The team of three researchers, two from IIT Bombay and one from IIM Ahmedabad, studied the role of mindfulness for enhancing moral reasoning through a survey and longitudinal experiment.
Through a cross-sectional survey of 400 participants with professional experience, they demonstrated trait mindfulness of individuals decreases egocentric bias and increases compassion. This leads to high levels of moral reasoning. Through longitudinal experiments with MBA students with average work experience of three years, they demonstrated that meditation helps increase the level of mindfulness and compassion and reduces egocentric bias. This process resulted in increase in levels of moral reasoning within two months.
Published in journal ‘Business Ethics: A European Review’, this, the researchers claim, is a first-of-its-kind study in the field of psychology and management where the impact of mindfulness practice is clearly shown on moral reasoning of young adult population. Ashish Pandey, faculty at the Shailesh J Mehta School of Management at IIT Bombay and lead researcher, said this study can have widespread implication on moral development of management students and working executives, and the way moral and ethics courses are taught. Other authors are Rajesh Chandwani, faculty at IIM Ahmedabad, and Ajinkya Navare, PhD scholar at IIT Bombay.