Recent years have witnessed an increase of research on socio-affective factors that can explain individual differences in aggressive tendencies across community and offender populations. Specifically, mindfulness and emotion regulation have emerged as important factors, which could also constitute important prevention and treatment targets. Yet, recent studies have advanced the possibility that mindfulness may also have a “dark” side, being associated with increased levels of aggression-related variables, especially when accounting for the variance associated with emotion regulation. The present study sought to elucidate relationships among mindfulness, emotion regulation, and aggression dimensions (i.e., verbal and physical aggression, anger, and hostility) across violent offender (N = 397) and community (N = 324) samples. Results revealed expected associations between both mindfulness and emotion regulation and aggression dimensions, such that greater impairments in mindfulness and emotion regulation were related to increased levels of aggression across samples. Further, analyses of indirect effects revealed that a latent emotion dysregulation factor accounted for (i.e., mediated) relationships between mindfulness facets and aggression dimensions in both samples. Previously reported positive associations between the residual variance in mindfulness scales (i.e., controlling for emotion regulation) and aggression-related variables were not replicated in the current samples. Taken together, findings suggest that mindfulness and emotion regulation have unequivocal relations with lower levels of aggression, and should therefore be considered as relevant targets for prevention and treatment programs aimed at reducing aggressive tendencies.
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