Journal of Applied Social Psychology

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Mindfulness and social identity: Predicting well‐being in a high‐stress environment

Abstract Social identity processes and mindfulness are two important predictors of well‐being. Yet, to date, these predictors have been studied independently, within separate research fields. This paper aims to provide an initial integration of these two research fields. Our research was conducted in a context characterized by multiple chronic stressors: A maximum security prison in Kenya. In particular, two studies measured social identification with a mindfulness group and dispositional mindfulness. We investigated the effects of these constructs on three well‐being measures: mental well‐being, resilience (Studies 1 & 2), and reduction of substance use (Study 2). Our results, replicated across two studies (Study 1: N = 82, Study 2: N = 145), revealed that both social identification with the mindfulness group and mindfulness predicted psychological outcomes. Social identification explained variance in mental well‐being and resilience in addition to the variance explained by mindfulness. Study 2 additionally showed that both identification and mindfulness were positively related to a reduction in substance use. However, when examined together, social identification held all the explanatory power, and mindfulness was no longer a significant predictor. From the overall results, we argue that social identity processes can be fruitfully combined with mindfulness in well‐being programs delivered in high‐stress environments such as prisons. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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