Mindfulness meditation counteracts self-control depletion

Department of Psychology, University of Basel, Missionsstr. 60/62, 4055 Basel, Switzerland.
Consciousness and Cognition (Impact Factor: 2.31). 02/2012; 21(2):1016-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.concog.2012.01.008
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Mindfulness meditation describes a set of different mental techniques to train attention and awareness. Trait mindfulness and extended mindfulness interventions can benefit self-control. The present study investigated the short-term consequences of mindfulness meditation under conditions of limited self-control resources. Specifically, we hypothesized that a brief period of mindfulness meditation would counteract the deleterious effect that the exertion of self-control has on subsequent self-control performance. Participants who had been depleted of self-control resources by an emotion suppression task showed decrements in self-control performance as compared to participants who had not suppressed emotions. However, participants who had meditated after emotion suppression performed equally well on the subsequent self-control task as participants who had not exerted self-control previously. This finding suggests that a brief period of mindfulness meditation may serve as a quick and efficient strategy to foster self-control under conditions of low resources.

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Available from: Malte Friese, Sep 26, 2015
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    • "Cognitive (or " ego " ) depletion refers to a meta-analytically supported (Hagger, Wood, Stiff, & Chatzisarantis, 2010) finding that having recently performed an act of self-regulation (typically acts requiring response inhibition) temporarily impairs subsequent self-regulation (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven, & Tice, 1998). In one illustration of a mindfulness × depletion interaction, Friese et al. (2012) found that the depleting effect of suppressing emotions on subsequent selfregulation was buffered by brief mindfulness meditation. Cognitive depletion also reduces working memory capacity (Hofmann, Schmeichel, & Baddeley, 2012), and mindfulness buffers working memory declines during cognitively demanding boot camp training periods in soldiers (Jha, Stanley, Kiyonaga, Wong, & Gelfand, 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Prior research has linked mindfulness to improvements in attention, and suggested that the effects of mindfulness are particularly pronounced when individuals are cognitively depleted or stressed. Yet, no studies have tested whether mindfulness improves declarative awareness of unexpected stimuli in goal-directed tasks. Participants (N=794) were either depleted (or not) and subsequently underwent a brief mindfulness induction (or not). They then completed an inattentional blindness task during which an unexpected distractor appeared on the computer monitor. This task was used to assess declarative conscious awareness of the unexpected distractor's presence and the extent to which its perceptual properties were encoded. Mindfulness increased awareness of the unexpected distractor (i.e., reduced rates of inattentional blindness). Contrary to predictions, no mindfulness×depletion interaction emerged. Depletion however, increased perceptual encoding of the distractor. These results suggest that mindfulness may foster awareness of unexpected stimuli (i.e., reduce inattentional blindness). Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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    • "Meditation practice has been shown to influence a person's cognitive abilities like visual perception (Carter et al. 2005), attention (Jha et al. 2007; Hodgins and Adairs 2010; Lutz et al. 2009; Raffone and Srinivasan 2010), working memory (Buttle 2011; Jha et al. 2010; Vugt and Jha 2011), emotion regulation (Kemeny et al. 2012; Robins et al. 2012; Goldin and Gross 2010), and self-control (Friese et al. 2012). More specifically, meditation has been shown to improve different attentional processes depending on the nature of the meditation type or practice (Chan and Woollcott 2007; Jha et al. 2007; Tang et al. 2007). "
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    • "In experimental settings, Wenk-Sormaz (2005) and More and Malinowski (2009) found less habitual responding with the use of meditation. Mindfulness has also been related to increased self-control (Friese et al., 2012), which might be beneficial in situations where one is facing choices between sustainable and tempting unsustainable behaviors. In the context of physical health-related activities, Chatzisarantis and Hagger (2007) found that mindfulness facilitated the translation of 2 While we understand empathy as the capacity to recognize emotions that are being experienced by another person, we use compassion about our response to that recognition. "
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