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This research investigates the state and longitudinal effects of a loving-kindness meditation, a contemplative practice aimed a cultivating virtuous ethics, on employees’ motivational and affective states at work. Drawing on practices and concepts from Buddhist ethics, we developed a secular workplace loving-kindness training and tested its effects across two studies. In Study 1, we tested this workplace intervention using a randomized control trial (RCT), comparing the effects of loving-kindness practices on employee affect and motivation with an active (mindfulness) and passive control condition. Our analyses focused on both longitudinal effects (i.e. increases in affect and motivation over time) and within person state effects (e.g. effects of practice on daily affect and motivation). Results indicated mixed support for the longitudinal benefits of loving-kindness practice, with individuals in the loving-kindness condition showing increases in work motivation, affective valence, and activation over time; however, the majority of these differences were not statistically distinguishable from trends in the control conditions. Analysis of state (day-level) effects found consistent support for a beneficial effect of loving-kindness practice on daily affective valence and motivation. Study 2 then replicated these day-level effects. Together, this evidence provides support for a salubrious state effect of loving-kindness practice in a workplace environment. However, further empirical support is needed to strengthen evidence for the longitudinal effects. We discuss theoretical and practical implications including the future of loving kindness, and related ethics practices, as workplace interventions.
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