Keep Calm and Carry On: The Short vs. Long Run Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on (Academic) Performance

Mer, 15/06/2022 - 12:00 / 13:00

401, Viale Romania

Speaker: Lea Cassar , University of Regensburg

Abstract

Mindfulness-based meditation practices are becoming increasingly popular in the Western world, including in private and public organizations, such as firms, universities and schools. While the scientific literature has largely documented the benefits of mindfulness meditation on mental health, little is still known about potential spillovers of these practices on other important life outcomes, such as performance. We address this question through a field experiment in an educational setting.  We study the causal impact of mindfulness meditation on academic performance through a randomized evaluation of a well-known 8-weeks mindfulness meditation training delivered to university students on campus.  As expected, the intervention improves students’ mental health and non-cognitive skills. However, it takes time before students' performance can benefit from mindfulness meditation: we find that while the intervention significantly increases academic performance by about 0.4 s.d. in the long-run (ca. 6 months after the end of intervention), if anything it marginally decreases average grades in the short-run, i.e, during the exam period right after the end of the intervention. We investigate the underlying mechanisms and discuss the implications of our results.