The Application of the Mindfulness Framework to the Study of Intercultural Competence
Although a growing body of evidence has looked at the beneficial impact of mindfulness practice in a number of domains (e.g., improvement of mental health and psychological well-being, physical health, behavioral regulation, relationship and social interaction quality; see Baer, 2003; Brown et al., 2007), very little empirical research has been conducted or focused on the role that mindfulness could play in better understanding intercultural relations and related issues (e.g., intercultural competence development and training, intercultural adaptation and effectiveness). As such, the purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the relationship between mindfulness and intercultural competence, and more specifically investigate the extent to which there exists a direct or indirect relationship between these constructs. Although empirical evidence suggests that numerous mechanisms could be at play (see Shapiro et al., 2006), there are no theories or models specifically looking at the construct of mindfulness and the means by which it could potentially impact the development of intercultural competence. By drawing on the seminal work of Shapiro et al. (2006), two studies were conducted to test an integrative framework to highlight the presence of such a relationship and investigate the mediating role played by these different mechanisms, including (a) decentering, (b) exposure, (c) flexibility/rigidity, (d) self-regulation/self-management, and (e) value clarification. After steps were taken to ensure that the measurement properties of the different indices or psychometric instruments were meeting an acceptable standard across both studies, results generally indicated that mindfulness was indeed related to a number of intercultural competence indices, and that this relationship tended to be partially mediated by a number of mediating variables or mechanisms of action (i.e., exposure, flexibility/ rigidity, self-regulation/self-management, and value-clarification). Overall, these results tend to suggest that applying the mindfulness framework to the study of intercultural competence is likely to generate a number of interesting insights and greatly benefit both research and practice.