ArticleLiterature Review

On the porosity of subject and object in “mindfulness” scientific study: Challenges to “scientific” construction, operationalization and measurement of mindfulness

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  • Universitätsspital Basel (University Hospital Basel)
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Abstract

Mindfulness, derived from Buddhist psychology and philosophy, has gained broad popularity in the last decades, due importantly to scientific interest and findings. Yet Buddhist mindfulness developed in Asian pre-scientific culture and religion, and is predicated upon long-term cultivation of introspective awareness of lived experience, not highly accessible to empirical study. Further complicating the ‘science’ of mindfulness, mindfulness's very definition is multifaceted, resistant to dismantling and requires substantial amounts of personal practice to gain expertise. Most scientists investigating mindfulness have not achieved a high level of this expertise. Here I address how mindfulness is currently being invented as a scientific fact or object of inquiry. The intrinsic porosity of subjective and objective factors influencing the investigation of mindfulness is highlighted: the evolving body of ‘scientific’ experts, instruments used to measure mindfulness, the alliances of funders and other supporters of mindfulness research, and the public representation of the related findings.

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... This abundance of different mindfulness measurement scales does not seem to have reduced the problems of validity and reliability of the construct (Grossman, 2019;Tomlinson et al., 2018). In addition, quantitative approaches have been criticized and reported to be limited and biased in terms of the significant responses offered when analyzing multidimensional, complex terms with an experiential value (first-person experiences) such as mindfulness (Grossman, 2008(Grossman, , 2019. ...
... This abundance of different mindfulness measurement scales does not seem to have reduced the problems of validity and reliability of the construct (Grossman, 2019;Tomlinson et al., 2018). In addition, quantitative approaches have been criticized and reported to be limited and biased in terms of the significant responses offered when analyzing multidimensional, complex terms with an experiential value (first-person experiences) such as mindfulness (Grossman, 2008(Grossman, , 2019. All of this has led to a gradual increase and a trend toward qualitative research that seeks to enrich the field of study of mindfulness (Frank et al., 2019). ...
... However, the debate on the suitability of the dichotomy between lay and scientific expertise is open. There are authors who, in the case of mindfulness, classify it as problematic; they consider it highly questionable that expertise (in contrast to lay perspectives) evolves only through academic engagement (Grossman, 2019). ...
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Objectives Mindfulness has been defined differently in academic scientific contexts and in Buddhist academic contexts. An under-studied area is that of lay (non-academic) theories of mindfulness. The goal of this article is to identify, organize, analyze in detail, and provide themes from the meditators’ definitions of mindfulness. Possible differences and similarities of the collected definitions of mindfulness with the scientific-academic definitions and with the academic-Buddhist definitions are also checked. Methods A qualitative and inductive thematic analysis on the definitions of mindfulness offered by the participants was carried out. Results The sample consisted of 326 meditators who offered a definition of mindfulness through an open question. Seven themes were identified: (1) mindfulness defined as attention/awareness; (2) mindfulness defined as a non-evaluative attitude; (3) mindfulness defined as strategy; (4) mindfulness defined from a theoretical analysis; (5) mindfulness defined as a psycho-affective-spiritual state; (6) mindfulness defined as personal development; and (7) lack of understanding of mindfulness. From these themes, it can be deduced that the definitions collected share more patterns of meaning with the scientific-academic definition of mindfulness than with the academic-Buddhist one. Conclusions The findings of this study provide new insights into the complexity and heterogeneity of the definition of mindfulness. What has been discovered may indicate the complexity of the mindfulness construct itself.
... Hence, making a quantitative, standardized approach to the phenomenon is a difficult enterprise. Grossman (2019) additionally recently showed the substantial degree to which quantitative investigations of mindfulness are fundamentally affected by the subjective influences and biases they are assumed to mitigate. As a consequence, proposals have been made to intensify the qualitative inquiry of MBIs (Garland and Gaylord 2009;Grossman 2008Grossman , 2019. ...
... Grossman (2019) additionally recently showed the substantial degree to which quantitative investigations of mindfulness are fundamentally affected by the subjective influences and biases they are assumed to mitigate. As a consequence, proposals have been made to intensify the qualitative inquiry of MBIs (Garland and Gaylord 2009;Grossman 2008Grossman , 2019. ...
... Such perspective, usually gained from observing small samples, entails procedures, assumptions and theoretical lenses that make certain aspects visible while others remain opaque (Morse and Chung 2003). In sum, qualitative approaches toward mindfulness practices require a critical and differentiated discussion in the same way as is the case for quantitative studies (see Grossman 2019). ...
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Objectives Qualitative methods come along with specific methodological backgrounds and related empirical strengths and weaknesses. Research is lacking addressing the question of what it precisely means to study mindfulness practices from a particular methodological point of view. The aim of this paper is to shed light on what qualities of mindfulness different qualitative methods can elucidate. Methods Based on interviews stemming from participants of a consumer-focused mindfulness training (BiNKA), we undertook a comparison of four different analyses, namely content analysis (CA), grounded theory (GT), interpretative-phenomenological analysis (IPA), and discourse analysis (DA). Results Independently applying the four methods on our data material led to the following findings: CA demonstrated that the training had effects on self-awareness, well-being, and the development of ethical qualities and influenced pre-consumptive stages of participants; GT revealed the complex set of conditions determining whether and how the mindfulness training influenced the attendees; IPA highlighted the subjectivity of the mindfulness experience, suggesting that (1) different training elements have varying effects on participants and (2) it is often not the meditation practice, but other course elements that cause the effects experienced by the attendees; DA demonstrated that the course experience was influenced by subjective theories held by the participants. In particular, they showed typical strategies of rationalizing their consumption. Conclusions A pluralistic qualitative research assists in identifying blind spots and limitations of a single method, increases the self-reflexivity, and helps to arrive at a more comprehensive understanding of mindfulness practice or other processes of covert lived experience.
... Though mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism, it has extended beyond that tradition into the sciences and Western contemporary culture. Grossman (2019) argues that this can be problematic because mindfulness practice in Buddhism is meant to cultivate "truths" about personal, lived experiences -a subjective phenomenon that is difficult to measure with empirical investigation. Furthermore, the definition and measurement of mindfulness in modern science are enmeshed in a complex web of historical, social, economic, political, and technological factors (Grossman, 2019). ...
... Grossman (2019) argues that this can be problematic because mindfulness practice in Buddhism is meant to cultivate "truths" about personal, lived experiences -a subjective phenomenon that is difficult to measure with empirical investigation. Furthermore, the definition and measurement of mindfulness in modern science are enmeshed in a complex web of historical, social, economic, political, and technological factors (Grossman, 2019). Van Dam et al. (2017) point out that in this expansion, mindfulness has been defined in a variety of ways, which has led to misinformation, misunderstanding, and a general lack of methodologically rigorous research. ...
... Mindfulness has been conceptualized as a mental faculty relating to attention, awareness, memory, or discernment (Davidson and Kaszniak, 2015). Mindfulness has also been envisioned as a path to psychological and physical well-being (Grossman, 2019). The semantic ambiguity in the meaning of mindfulness has implications. ...
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Mindfulness is often used as an umbrella term to characterize a large number of practices, processes, and characteristics. Critics argue that this broad definition has led to misinformation, misunderstanding, and a general lack of methodologically rigorous research. Some of the confusion surrounding mindfulness is also believed to stem from an undifferentiated use of the term mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness and all other forms of meditation have been shown to modulate the insula, which is the primary hub for interoception. Some have argued that interoception is foundational to mindfulness and may be the primary mechanism by which one benefits from the practice. However, much like the mindfulness literature, interoception remains broadly defined often without precision and with domain-specific meanings and implications. Research demonstrates that the insula and surrounding neural circuits are believed to be responsible for a number of other functions beyond interoception including attention, awareness, and all subjective experiences, much of which has been linked to the mindfulness literature. It has been assumed that mindfulness produces these neuroplasticity and functional effects. There is evidence that mindfulness and some of its benefits may be better described as increased interoception as a result of the neuroplasticity changes in the insula, and the development of the insula and surrounding neural circuits may cultivate dispositional mindfulness. The purposes of this article are to (1) highlight that it may be more accurate to link many of the identified benefits in the mindfulness literature to interoception and its neurological correlates and (2) propose attentional style as a means to clarify some of the confusion surrounding mindfulness, interoception, and meditation. Different meditations require different attentional styles. Attention can be analogous to a focal point with each focal point providing a unique perspective. Given that all meditative techniques modulate the insula, each meditation can provide a unique perspective from which to investigate complex interoceptive signals that may be unavailable from other meditative traditions. It may prove more useful to anchor scientific findings in the concrete body as a means to investigate those rather than a set of abstract, broadly defined meditative techniques.
... Interesującą próbę stworzenia narzędzia badawczego, które umożliwiałoby ocenę jako ści praktykowania uważności nazwanego MINDSENS, podjął zespół Solera (Soler i in., 2014). Grupa badaczy posłużyła się dwoma znanymi narzędziami, jakimi były FFMQ, oceniający predyspozycje do uważności (Grossman, 2011(Grossman, , 2019 oraz Kwestionariusz doświadczeń (Experiences Questionnaire -EQ), który mierzy postępy w treningach (Soler i in., 2014). Badania walidacyjne przeprowadzono na relatywnie dużej próbie 670 osób, doko nując pomiaru zaawansowania w medytacji (typ medytacji, czas trwania sesji, częstotliwość i długość praktykowania). ...
... Radoń Podsumowując, należy stwierdzić, że MINDSENS może być z powodzeniem stosowa ny do pomiaru z jednej strony jakości praktykowania, a z drugiej -zaawansowania w tre ningach. Wskazują na to następujące fakty: 1) bardzo dobrze różnicuje osoby mające doświadczenie medytacyjne od tych, które takiego doświadczenia nie mają (p < 0,001); 2) wszystkie czynniki wiążą się pozytywnie i istotnie z długością oraz częstotliwością praktykowania (wysoka korelacja kanoniczna r = 0,624; wyższe wskaźniki wyjaśnianej wariancji w analizie regresji -0,21 < r 2 < 0,22; wysokie rotowane ładunki czynnikowe -od 0,53 do 0,64; trafna dyskryminacja na poziomie 82,3%); 3) wszystkie czynniki są traktowane jako miara zaawansowania w treningach medyta cyjnych (Baer, 2007;Baer i in., 2006Baer i in., , 2008Duan, Li, 2016;Grossman, 2011Grossman, , 2019Rau, Williams, 2016;Soler i in., 2014). W związku z tym, że MINDSENS okazał się wartościowym narzędziem służącym do oceny zarówno jakości praktykowania, jak i zaawansowania w treningach medytacyjnych, podjęto się próby jego adaptacji do warunków polskich. ...
... analizy W związku z tym, że wyniki badań walidacyjnych dotyczących narzędzi mierzących na silenie uważności sugerują dobre dopasowanie danych empirycznych zarówno do modelu równorzędnego, jak i hierarchicznego (por. Grossman, 2011Grossman, , 2019Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, Walach, 2004;Radoń, 2020b), postanowiono najpierw sprawdzić dopasowanie danych empirycznych polskiej adaptacji do różnych modeli, tj. do 3czynnikowego rów norzędnego, 3czynnikowego hierarchicznego, 3czynnikowego drugiego rzędu (niereak tywność i decentracja tworzą czynnik pierwszego rzędu, a obserwacja -drugiego rzędu) oraz 3czynnikowego z bifaktorem. ...
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Celem artykułu była polska adaptacja kwestionariusza MINDSENS, służącego do pomiaru zaawansowania w uważności oraz innych technik opartych na medytacji. Próbę badawczą stanowiły dwie grupy osób: 1) z doświadczeniem w medytacji (N = 656, tj. 74,6%, w tym medytacja chrześcijańska – 33,5%; uważność – 24,4%; techniki koncentracyjne, m.in. joga i medytacja transcendentalna – 16,2%) oraz 2) bez doświadczenia medytacyjnego (N = 226, tj. 25,4%), kontrolowane pod względem długości i częstotliwości praktykowania oraz zaburzeń. Przeprowadzona procedura walidacyjna wykazała, że polska adaptacja MINDSENS, tj. Kwestionariusz zaawansowania w uważności (Obserwowanie, Niereaktywność i Decentracja) charakteryzuje się dobrymi właściwościami psychometrycznymi pod względem rzetelności łącznej (0,74 ≤ CR ≤ 0,93) i zbieżnej (0,82 ≤ H ≤ 0,93), stabilności bezwzględnej (0,76 ≤ rtt ≤ 0,82), trafności wewnętrznej (model 3-czynnikowy z bifaktorem) oraz zewnętrznej. Kwestionariusz ten może więc być użytecznym narzędziem służącym do pomiaru zaawansowania w uważności w stosunku do osób z doświadczeniem medytacyjnym, a pochodzących zarówno z populacji klinicznych, jak i pozaklinicznych, w wieku od 15 do 72 lat.
... Both MBSR and CCT improved core 'cognitive' and 'emotional' aspects of functioning. Neither program is wholly "cognitive" nor wholly "affective" (Grossman, 2019). Indeed, mindfulness plays a foundational role for other meditation practices (Dahl and Davidson, 2019) and attending to one's experience is common to all of them. ...
... As Fried (2015) has argued, sum scores on self-report measures (e.g., of depression) are too coarse-grained or insufficiently reliable to identify subtle differences in interventions, and in meditation in particular (Grossman, 2019). Thus, future research should use behavioral and biological measures to programmatically analyze differences between meditation types (Desbordes et al., 2012;Roca and Vazquez, 2020b), employing more sophisticated analysis (such as network analysis) to explore these differences (Roca et al., 2019). ...
Article
Background : The general aim of the study was to examine the relative effectiveness and mediators of change in standardized mindfulness and compassion interventions. Methods : A sample of 431 participants enrolled in a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR = 277) and a Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT = 154). The assessment before and after the program included a set of outcomes and mediators measures. A four-step data analysis plan was followed: ANCOVAs, Reliable Change Index, and mediations (simple and multiple). Results : Both interventions yielded increased mindfulness, decentering, body awareness, and self-compassion. Yet, present-moment awareness improvements (i.e., decentering, and body awareness) were significantly larger in the MBSR than in CCT, whereas socio-emotional changes (i.e., common humanity and empathic concern) were larger in the CCT than in MBSR. The magnitude of effect sizes ranged from medium to large. Furthermore, both mindfulness and compassion interventions yielded similar changes in psychological distress (i.e., stress, anxiety, and depression), maladaptive cognitive processes (i.e., rumination and thought suppression), and well-being. The mediation models showed that although the MBSR program seemingly relies on changes in present-moment awareness mechanisms (i.e., decentering and body awareness) to reduce psychological distress and to improve well-being, the CCT program seemingly achieves the same positive outcomes through changes in socio-emotional mechanisms (i.e., common-humanity and empathy concern). Limitations : Due to our naturalistic design in real-world community setting, it was infeasible to randomly assign participants to conditions. Conclusions : Our results suggest that mindfulness and compassion programs operate through different pathways to reduce psychological distress and to promote well-being.
... Mindfulness is a multi-faceted construct, and there is currently some debate in the literature regarding its optimal measurement (Grossman, 2019). Moreover, research on the processes through which mindfulness affects well-being is recognised as a priority for the field but remains in its infancy (Gu, Strauss, Bond, & Cavanagh, 2015). ...
... A second limitation is that the study relied solely on self-report measures which, although well-used and validated, may be subject to recall and social-desirability biases (e.g. overestimation of prosocial qualities; Grossman, 2019). Third, the cross-sectional design means that age and cohort effects cannot be separated and that causal sequences among the variables cannot be directly inferred. ...
Article
Objectives: Empirical research on the processes through which mindfulness affects well-being is in its infancy. Furthermore, few studies have considered the positive effects of mindfulness on psychological functioning from a lifespan perspective. The present study aimed to examine the role of age in moderating associations of mindfulness components with well-being in the context of a proposed model of mindfulness. Methods: A community-based sample of 623 participants aged between 18 and 86 years (M = 48.78, SD = 16.74) was recruited via an internet-based research platform. Participants completed questionnaire measures of mindful characteristics (i.e. present-moment attention, nonjudgment, interoception, acceptance, nonattachment, and decentering), flexible goal adjustment, and well-being. Results: Parallel mediation analyses showed that both present-moment attention and nonjudgment provided significant pathways to (a) flexible goal adjustment through nonattachment and decentering; and (b) well-being through acceptance, nonattachment, and decentering. Furthermore, present-moment attention, nonjudgment, acceptance, nonattachment, and decentering were all positively associated with age. Conditional process analyses revealed that the direct relationships between (1) present-moment attention and well-being, (2) nonjudgment and well-being, and (3) decentering and flexible goal adjustment became stronger with age and were significant for adults from around 40 years of age and older. Conclusions: The findings suggest that the tendency to focus on the present-moment and adopt a nonjudgmental orientation may become especially important for well-being with advancing age, and the ability to appreciate the transitory nature of personal experiences may be particularly important for flexible employment of both goal disengagement and reengagement strategies across the second half of life. *** Full text available at https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2020.1734915***
... Also, our data show that the final between-groups difference in describe scores was largely driven by a reduction in the describe scores in the psycho-educational control group rather than by a large increase in the describe scores in the MBCT group. A possible explanation of these findings could be related to the notion that available mindfulness questionnaires could not be as specific as expected (Grossman, 2011(Grossman, , 2019. In fact, although Baer et al. (2008)'s validation study of the FFMQ confirmed its sensitivity, criticism has subsequently been raised about the sensitivity and specificity of existing mindfulness questionnaires such as the FFMQ (Grossman, 2011(Grossman, , 2019. ...
... A possible explanation of these findings could be related to the notion that available mindfulness questionnaires could not be as specific as expected (Grossman, 2011(Grossman, , 2019. In fact, although Baer et al. (2008)'s validation study of the FFMQ confirmed its sensitivity, criticism has subsequently been raised about the sensitivity and specificity of existing mindfulness questionnaires such as the FFMQ (Grossman, 2011(Grossman, , 2019. Furthermore, other authors have provided arguments supporting the need for the search of newer mindfulness measures and/or the integration of available measures with new/different measures (Khoury et al., 2017). ...
Article
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Objectives Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has shown some efficacy for patients with anxiety disorders. However, most of available studies suffer from important methodological shortcomings, including the lack of adequate control groups and of follow-up measures. The present study aims to compare MBCT with an active psycho-educational and introductory cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) control group designed to match as much as possible the MBCT program but excluding mindfulness meditation practice for the treatment of patients with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder who did not achieve remission following at least 8 weeks of adequate pharmacological treatment.Methods Out of 112 screened patients, 52 were randomized to receive MBCT or psycho-education for 8 weeks and were prospectively followed for 26 weeks. The severity of anxiety symptoms was assessed with the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ). Measures of depression, mindfulness and quality of life were also included (Beck Depression Inventory-II; Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire; Psychological General Well Being Index). All assessments were performed at baseline, 4, 8, 17 and 26 weeks.ResultsBAI and PSWQ showed higher improvements, which were particularly evident over the long-term period, in the MBCT group than in the psycho-education group.Conclusions Although limited by a small sample size, the results of this study suggest the superiority of MBCT over an active psycho-educational and introductory CBT control group for non-remitted patients with anxiety disorders.
... Mindfulness has been conceptualized as both a state that is achieved during mindfulness meditation and a trait that is an enduring characteristic over time (Kiken et al., 2015). However, mindfulness has remained an elusive construct not easily amenable to scientific inquiry, including how it is measured (Grossman, 2019). Nonetheless, measuring mindfulness remains an important endeavor not just for operationalization, but also for evaluating the mechanisms behind, and utility of, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). ...
... In other words, there may be a meaningful difference between emergency TCs who responded to our survey and those who did not. Sixth, the use of self-report questionnaires to measure mindfulness is not optimal (Grossman, 2019). However, although alternative means of measurement have been developed, it is nonetheless the case that many studies continue to use questionnaires to study mindfulness (Van Dam et al., 2018), highlighting the value of continued efforts to improve these instruments. ...
Article
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Objectives There is mixed psychometric evidence for the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire’s (FFMQ) Observing factor (FFMQ-Observing). Recent efforts to improve this construct produced a new Observing Scale consisting of three factors: Body Observing, Emotion Awareness, and External Perception. Using a sample of mostly nonmeditating emergency telecommunicators (TCs), this study explored this new Observing Scale’s factor structure, its viability as a replacement for the FFMQ-Observing factor, and its convergent validity.Methods The FFMQ and additional mindfulness items from the new Observing Scale were administered via an online survey to emergency TCs (N = 242, Mage = 41.84, SD = 9.80, range = 18–72). We performed exploratory factor analysis (EFA) on the Observing Scale, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) on a novel five-factor model integrating the Observing Scale with the FFMQ (excluding FFMQ-Observing), and correlations among the Observing Scale, the FFMQ, and mindfulness-based practices.ResultsEFA suggested four factors for the Observing Scale: Internal Body Observing, External Body Observing, Emotion Awareness, and External Perception. CFA failed to validate our integrated model, but the Observing Scale was positively correlated with the FFMQ and mindfulness-based practices.Conclusions This study provides preliminary support for an improved Observing Scale, while suggesting a novel, four-factor structure in emergency TCs. Although the Observing Scale was not compatible with the FFMQ, this may reflect measurement error rather than model misspecification given evidence of content overlap and distinctive forms of Body Observing. Future attempts to validate the new Observing Scale in larger samples are encouraged before it may be recommended as an alternative to the FFMQ-Observing factor.
... First and foremost, the application of quantitative approaches using self-report-based mindfulness scalesapplied in the vast majority of mindfulness research-has come under attack (Davidson & Kaszniak, 2015;Goldberg et al., 2019;Goyal et al., 2014;Grossman, 2008Grossman, , 2019Hanley et al., 2016;Quaglia et al., 2016;Van Dam et al., 2018). It is argued that the existing instruments (overviews can be found in Bergomi et al., 2013;Quaglia et al., 2016;van Dam et al., 2018) are rooted in semantic ambiguities surrounding the concept of mindfulness and often represent oversimplifications of its complex and multifarious nature. ...
... The third issue concerns the focus of interest guiding mindfulness research (Davidson & Kaszniak, 2015;Grossman, 2019;Hanley et al., 2016;van Dam et al., 2018). The majority on the effectiveness of mindfulness practices in regard to specific goals, such as health-related or performanceoriented outcomes. ...
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Objectives While scholars are increasingly emphasizing the potential of qualitative mindfulness practice research (QMPR) for advancing the understanding of mindfulness practice, there has been no significant empirical inquiry looking at actual trends and practices of QMPR. Consequently, it has been impossible to direct research practices toward under-researched areas and make methodical suggestions on how to approach them. The aim of the present study was to analyze current trends and practices in QMPR in order to address these areas of need. Methods Based on a scoping review, 229 qualitative studies published between 2000 and 2019 were analyzed in regard to their disciplinary backgrounds, research questions and intentions, type of mindfulness practice, target population, as well as practices of data collection and analysis. Results A strong focus of QMPR lies in the inquiry of mindfulness-based interventions, particularly mindfulness-based stress reduction, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and adaptations. Over 10% of the publications do not fully specify the mindfulness practice. The efficacy and subjective experience of mindfulness practices constitute the dominant research interests of QMPR. Data collection is highly concentrated on practice participants and first-person data. Interpretative paradigms are the predominant analytical approach within QMPR. QMPR studies have a strong proclivity toward emphasizing the positive effects of mindfulness practice. Nine percent of all articles considered for our study did not fully disclose their analytical procedure. Adversarial research groups and pluralistic qualitative research remain scarce. Conclusions Future QMPR should (i) include second- and third-person data, (ii) include dropouts and former mindfulness practitioners, (iii) fully disclose details on the mindfulness practice and data analysis, (iv) intensify the application of critical and deconstructivist paradigms, as well as pluralistic qualitative research, and (v) build adversarial research teams.
... Recent literature debates the definition and optimal measurement of mindfulness as a multifaceted construct (Grossman, 2019). Although the term mindfulness has been used to mean many things, this review cites Kabat-Zinn's work, which describes mindfulness as "the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment" (2003, p. 145). ...
... Further, research suggests "mutual, reciprocally enhancing relationships between daily mindfulness and positive emotions" making it difficult to untangle associations between the characteristics of mindfulness and overall well-being (Du et al., 2019as cited in Mahlo & Windsor, 2020. Lastly, as previously noted, there remains ongoing debate around the definition and optimal measurement of mindfulness, which presents both a barrier and limitation to research on MBIs (Grossman, 2019). ...
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A growing body of research supports the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) to address a wide range of health concerns. This narrative literature review recognizes the important role these interventions play in response to public health challenges prompted by an aging demographic. Moreover, this review identifies opportunities to deliver cost-effective, community-based interventions tailored to older adults that promote successful aging. Complementary to this diverse demographic, MBIs allow participants to access naturally developed abilities that support overall well-being and resiliency later in life. The intersecting and beneficial effects of these interventions offer a well-suited, proactive, and holistic avenue to enhance quality of life for older adults.
... It is seen as an inherent quality of human consciousness that is accessible toand empirically assessable inindividuals, independent of their religious or spiritual beliefs (Baer 2003). This conceptualization forms the operational foundation for the vast majority of mindfulness research, including in relation to education (Bergomi et al. 2013;Grossman 2015Grossman , 2019. Since its introduction into Western science, an extensive body of research has linked it to established theories of attention, awareness, emotional intelligence, and other cognitive-emotional functions (Brown et al. 2007;Carroll 2016;Goleman 2011). ...
... Concerns have, for instance, been voiced with regard to the significance and validity of mindfulness research. A number of conceptual and methodical flaws have been identified, mainly concerning the quantitative (and by far most frequent) approach to its study (e.g., van Dam et al. 2018;Grossman 2015Grossman , 2019. There are calls for a more humble and cautious interpretation of the (allegedly) positive effects of mindfulness training, together with a more nuanced and differentiated inquiry, based on a clear definition of mindfulness and a transparent description of the related intervention or practice. ...
Chapter
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In this chapter, we critically assess the connection between mindfulness, education, and ESD. The aim is to explore the potential of mindfulness as an educational innovation in the context of the SDGs, in particular SDG 4. After providing some background to the philosophy and practice of mindfulness (section “Mindfulness”), we systematically analyze and present its linkages with education in general (section “Mindfulness and Education”) and, subsequently, with education for sustainability in particular (section “Mindfulness in Education for Sustainable Development”). In this context, two highly relevant fields of application in ESD are discussed in greater depth: climate change and resilience (section “Field of Application: Education for Sustainable Climate Change Mitigation, Adaptation, and Resilience”) and consumption (section “Field of Application: Education for Sustainable Consumption”). We conclude with some critical perspectives and possible ways forward (section “Critical Reflections and Ways Forward”).
... Yet, one glaring omission concerns how laypeople interpret and evaluate what it means to be mindful. Knowing how and what the public thinks about mindfulness is an important component in attempts to better conceptualize and operationalize the concept [7]. This is especially important as mindfulness has become an umbrella term, with its resultant ambiguity making it extremely difficult to characterize the concept's meaning [8]. ...
... While there have been many contemporary discussions regarding how to define mindfulness, the contributors to these discussions have largely been clinicians, practitioners and academic researchers. Prominent components of such academic and clinical definitions include (but are not limited to) increased attention awareness, increased acceptance of one's thoughts and decreased personal rumination [7][8][9]. Within Buddhist perspectives, concepts such as benevolence, integrity, memory and wisdom have been associated with mindfulness [8,10]. From an operational perspective, a commonly used individual difference measure of mindfulness, the five facets mindfulness questionnaire (FFMQ), has facets representing observing (noticing or attending to internal and external stimuli), describing (how people label their experiences), acting with awareness (attending to information in the present moment), non-judging of inner experience (not evaluating one's thoughts and emotions) and non-reactivity to inner experience (creating distance from one's thoughts and emotions) [11]. ...
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While the concept of mindfulness is ubiquitous, its meaning is ambiguous, with limited knowledge about how it is understood by the general public. Understanding how laypeople perceive mindfulness and mindful people is vital, as it will impact how people interpret and act upon information about mindfulness and mindfulness practices. Study 1 participants evaluated the term mindfulness positively, while Study 2 participants perceived a mindful target positively and as strongly endorsing self-transcendence values (e.g. equality). Study 3 participants learned about an unknown target who was mindful or not. The mindful target was evaluated more positively than the less-mindful target and seen as endorsing different values. Most effects in Studies 1-3 were stronger among more mindful participants. Study 4 assessed visual representations of mindful and less-mindful faces. Visual representations of a mindful face were judged by naive raters as more likeable, possessing higher self-transcendence values and performing more moral behaviours compared with a less-mindful face. The results suggest that how people interpret mindfulness has important consequences and can be used to guide how mindfulness is implemented in response to global challenges.
... It is seen as an inherent quality of human consciousness that is accessible toand empirically assessable inindividuals, independent of their religious or spiritual beliefs (Baer 2003). This conceptualization forms the operational foundation for the vast majority of mindfulness research, including in relation to education (Bergomi et al. 2013;Grossman 2015Grossman , 2019. Since its introduction into Western science, an extensive body of research has linked it to established theories of attention, awareness, emotional intelligence, and other cognitive-emotional functions (Brown et al. 2007;Carroll 2016;Goleman 2011). ...
... Concerns have, for instance, been voiced with regard to the significance and validity of mindfulness research. A number of conceptual and methodical flaws have been identified, mainly concerning the quantitative (and by far most frequent) approach to its study (e.g., van Dam et al. 2018;Grossman 2015Grossman , 2019. There are calls for a more humble and cautious interpretation of the (allegedly) positive effects of mindfulness training, together with a more nuanced and differentiated inquiry, based on a clear definition of mindfulness and a transparent description of the related intervention or practice. ...
... We recommend that the specific (dis)advantages of theory-based and data-driven approaches to measuring meditation-related mechanisms are assessed in light of three relevant challenges encountered in contemporary meditation research. First, a substantial number of psychological self-report measures have been published, but there is growing consensus that many scales used to capture meditation-related constructs, including established gold standard measures, are psychometrically and conceptually limited (e.g., Grossman, 2019;Strauss et al., 2016). Second, the field is witnessing the introduction of a quickly growing number of new self-report measures purported to more adequately capture already established constructs or to capture new constructs for meditation research (see Van Dam et al., 2018). ...
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Objectives: Deepening our understanding of the mechanisms by which meditation practices impact well-being and human flourishing is essential for advancing the science of meditation. The phenomenologically grounded classification system introduced by Dahl, Lutz, and Davidson (2015) distinguishes attentional, constructive, and deconstructive forms of meditation based on the psychological mechanisms these practices primarily target or necessitate. Our main aim was to understand whether this theory-based taxonomy could be used as a guiding principle for combining established psychological self-report measures of meditation-related mechanisms into psychometrically adequate composite scores. Methods: We used cross-sectional data to compute meditation composite scores in three independent samples, namely meditation-naïve healthy older adults from the Age-Well trial (n = 135), meditation-naïve older adults with subjective cognitive decline from the SCD-Well trial (n = 147), and healthy long-term meditators (≥10,000 hours of practice including one three-year meditation retreat) from the Brain & Mindfulness project (n=29). The psychometric properties of the composite scores were assessed via floor and ceiling effects, composite intercorrelations, interpretability, and convergent validity in relation to well-being, anxiety, and depression. Results: Three theoretically derived meditation composite scores, reflecting mechanisms involved in attentional, constructive, and deconstructive practices, displayed adequate psychometric properties. Separate secondary confirmatory factor analyses empirically corroborated the theoretically predicted three-factor structure of this classification system. Conclusions: Complementing data-driven approaches, this study offers preliminary support for using a theoretical model of meditation-related mechanisms to create empirically meaningful and psychometrically sound composite scores. We conclude by suggesting conceptual and methodological considerations for future research in this area.
... More specifically, while the empirical support for the treatment of recurrent depression seems to be strong, the same cannot be as easily said for other clinical-like anxiety disorders. Questions about the methodological qualities of the literature have also been raised, ranging from a lack of active control groups (Farias et al., 2016) to problems in operationalization and measurements (Grossman, 2019). ...
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Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental disorders, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with exposure exercises is considered as the gold-standard psychological intervention. New psychotherapeutic modalities have emerged in the last decade and, among them, mindfulness has been rapidly adopted by therapists. The adoption rate is slower for the use of virtual reality (VR) to conduct exposure. The goal of the present position paper is to contrast, for the treatment of anxiety disorders, the weight of empirical evidences supporting the use of exposure in VR with the use of mindfulness-based therapy (MBT). Based on the most recent meta-analyses, we found that CBT with exposure conducted in VR was more thoroughly researched and supported than MBT, receiving validation from roughly twice as many studies with high control (i.e., randomized, active controls with clinical samples). However, this conclusion is nuanced by reviewing gaps in the literature for both therapies. Potential factors influencing clinicians’ choice of treatment and suggestions for future research directions are proposed.
... Some argue that attempting to assess mindfulness via self-report is futile, both because scientists create imperfect measures and because participants are intrinsically biased and unreliable in completing these assessments. 39 Several studies have found evidence of convergent validity of the FFMQ, with moderate-sized positive correlations between all FFMQ subscales and psychological wellbeing. 40 However, the discriminant validity of the FFMQ has been called into question, with at least one RCT finding similar increases in the FFMQ in an attention control group (health enhancement) and MBSR. ...
Article
Background Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common and often debilitating chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. Pharmacological treatments are often ineffective, leading to the development of a variety of behavioral interventions. Mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR) is one such program that has shown efficacy in reducing gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and improving quality of life (QOL). This single‐arm intervention study examines the association of clinical outcomes with changes in specific aspects of mindfulness. Methods Adults with IBS (53 women, 15 men) participated in an 8‐week MBSR class. Primary outcomes of GI symptom severity, quality of life, and GI‐specific anxiety, as well as specific aspects of mindfulness using the Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), were assessed at baseline, post‐treatment, and 6‐month follow‐up. Key Results Gastrointestinal symptom responder rate was 71%, and there was a significant pre‐post treatment change for three of the five FFMQ scales. Regression analysis indicated that change in the Act with Awareness (P = .02) facet of mindfulness was the strongest predictor of GI symptom and QOL improvement. Conclusions & Inferences Mindfulness‐based stress reduction training was associated with robust improvements in GI symptoms and associated problems in participants with IBS. Although significant increases in 3 of the 5 measured facets of mindfulness were found, regression analyses suggest that increases in the ability to retain present moment focus and act with awareness may be particularly important for improving outcomes in individuals with IBS. These results may inform the refinement of mindfulness‐based protocols specifically for treatment of IBS.
... Mindfulness is a broad term that has its historical roots in Buddhist traditions and does not have a universally agreed upon definition (Grossman 2019;Williams and Kabat-Zinn 2011). A commonly employed definition refers to mindfulness as a mental faculty that allows attention to be paid to present-moment experiences in a non-judgmental and nonreactive way (Baer 2019;Kabat-Zinn 1990). ...
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The primary aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between meditation experience and repetitive negative thinking (RNT) in regular meditators with a wide range of experience, and to examine the extent to which self-compassion and mindfulness mediate this relationship. RNT is a transdiagnostic process that is implicated in the development and maintenance of several mental health disorders. Converging evidence suggests that meditation practice is associated with improved mental health and may reduce levels of RNT. Increased levels of self-compassion and mindfulness have been associated with decreased levels of RNT and proposed as theoretically consistent mediators by which meditation practice exerts its beneficial effects; however, they are seldom considered in combination. In a cross-sectional design, 1281 meditators (mean age = 44.7 years, SD = 13.9, 53.7% female) completed questionnaires about meditation experience, RNT, self-compassion, and mindfulness. Linear regression and generalised structural equation models were used to examine the data. Longer duration of meditation experience was associated with lower levels of RNT and higher levels of self-compassion and mindfulness. Meditation experience was associated with RNT indirectly through self-compassion, but not through mindfulness. The results offer preliminary support for longer-term meditation as a potential means for reducing the maladaptive process of RNT. Clinically, self-compassion could be identified as a promising treatment target for interventions.
... Furthermore, most of the studies linking mindfulness to sexuality and relationality have only addressed either the relational or the sexual sphere (e.g., Bossio et al. 2018;Brotto et al. 2013;Dekeyser et al. 2008;Gillespie et al. 2015;Pruitt and McCollum 2010), despite them being highly intertwined. On another level, qualitative studies conducted among mindfulness practitioners or participants in mindfulness-based interventions may reflect individual qualities that may be related, but not necessarily specific to mindfulness (e.g., attention to visual or cognitive stimuli, acts of kindness) (Grossman 2019), which might pose an additional challenge in the way in which authors define and interpret mindfulness. Therefore, it seems appropriate to produce a metasynthesis of the qualitative studies linking mindfulness to both these dimensions, especially since mindfulness-based couple and/or sexuality interventions seem burgeoning and promising, and since their potential harm has not been thoroughly discussed in previous studies. ...
Article
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Objectives A substantive body of quantitative literature found links between mindfulness interventions or dispositional mindfulness and increased relationality and/or sexuality. However, there needs to be a better understanding of the contexts in which the links between mindfulness and relationality/sexuality may occur, which qualitative studies may provide.MethodA metasynthesis of qualitative studies aims to reinterpret the results of qualitative studies in one field of research. Therefore, we produced a metasynthesis of 8 peer-reviewed, published articles exploring the impacts of mindfulness practices and interventions on relationality/sexuality to produce new insights on this burgeoning field of research.ResultsThe increase of mindfulness is experienced through the development of two main traits that are related to sexuality and relationality, namely, accepting oneself and others as they are, as well as paying attention in the present moment, which leads to awareness and a new approach on life. Then, practicing mindfulness allows benefits marked by a surging connectedness with others and contentment with one’s life and self. Finally, limits of mindfulness practices and interventions marked by restraining conditions of life are found, such as the hardships of pursuing the practice of mindfulness, initial sexual/relational difficulties that require patience, and an insufficient connectedness with significant others that hinders progress.Conclusion Mindfulness-based practices and interventions are a helpful technique to reduce sexual/relational difficulties and enhance one’s quality of life in these realms but should not be considered and approached as a panacea to such difficulties.
... More recently, some scholars have suggested that mindfulness training might be a promising way for fostering more sustainable consumption behavior. The literature suggests five different mechanisms through which the cultivation of mindfulness could lead to increased sustainable consumption (see Fischer et al., 2017;Geiger et al., 2019), namely that mindfulness training might 1. allows people to disrupt habitual consumption routines 2. stimulate individuals' physical and psychological well-being, which seems to be related to sustainable behavior 3. help individuals to clarify their intrinsic values while decreasing the importance of material an underlying core mechanism behind the aforementioned effects is the practice's potential to cultivate "introspective awareness of lived experience" (Grossman, 2019). By raising awareness of inner states and processes, individuals can better relate to their personal needs and values while sharpening the observation of drivers in unsustainable consumption routines. ...
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Purpose This paper aims to explore the relationship between introspection and key competencies for sustainable consumption (KCSCs). It investigates whether mindfulness training can cultivate the ability to introspect and stimulate the development of KCSCs. Design/methodology/approach Two independent studies were analyzed. Data were retrieved from interviews with participants of a consumer-focused mindfulness training (Study 1, 11 participants), as well as from diaries of students attending a university seminar with mindfulness training (Study 2, 13 students), and made subject to qualitative content analysis. Findings Both studies show a clear intersection between both constructs and suggest that mindfulness training can contribute to the development of KCSCs and learners’ ability to introspect. The studies also demonstrated that introspection is not equally related to all competencies and that KCSCs must not be reduced to introspection. Research limitations/implications Both KCSCs and introspection are complex and latent constructs and hence challenging to observe. The research understands itself as a first exploratory approach for empirically investigating this complex relation. Originality/value While increasing (self-)reflectivity is at the core of competence-based education, a systematic engagement with the practice of introspection as a means to enhancing reflectivity is surprisingly lacking. Mindfulness training could be a promising way to cultivate introspective abilities and thus facilitate learning processes that are conducive to competence development.
... The experiences of self-awareness and present moment are highlighted in some meditation practices that have gained a broad scientific interest in psychological research over the last decades (Grossman, 2019). The next section is concerned with the concept of mindfulness meditation which represents a promising candidate for the investigation of the present moment as seen through the lens of the insula model. ...
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The experience of the present moment and the bodily self are modulated in altered states of consciousness such as during meditation. Over the last years, research has focused on reporting meditation-related changes on the explicit experience of duration. However, the effects of meditation on the implicit temporal structure of conscious perception pertaining to the present moment experience have not been explored so far. The major aim of this work was to investigate how states of mindfulness meditation change the temporal span of the present moment experience. A further purpose was to explore the effects of heart rate variability (HRV) and breathing rate in order to clarify the role of mind-body interactions on the present moment experience. Finally, individual differences (e.g. mindfulness, time perspective, daydreaming) and emotional states (e.g. arousal, emotional valence, perceived body and space) which may influence the experience of the present moment, were investigated. To this end, the present moment was operationalized using three psychophysical tasks (i.e., the metronome task, the Necker cube, and the sequencing task) for testing two different levels of temporal integration (i.e. functional level and subjective present) across modalities (i.e. visual and auditory). We performed a longitudinal study including two measurement time points (i.e. pre and post interventions) within each of the three study sessions. Participants having meditation experience were recruited and assigned to two matched groups (with n = 47 individuals) corresponding to the two experimental conditions (i.e., interventions). The interventions were either a 10-minute meditation session (meditation) or a 10-minute session of listening to a recorded story (story). Participants’ performance in the psychophysical tasks, conducted on three consecutive days, was compared before and after the interventions. The heart rate and breathing activity were recorded during the intervention and compared to a resting-state condition in order to examine whether physiological changes during meditation would affect a) the temporal integration intervals of metronome beats, b) the dwell times in the Necker cube task, and c) the implicit and explicit detection of asynchronies in the sequencing task. Using mediation analyses, we found that in participants who meditated, meditation-induced states and autonomic physiological changes led to an expanded temporal integration in the metronome task concerning the subjective present in the auditory modality. Furthermore, different components of self-attributed mindfulness (i.e. presence and acceptance) were associated with greater accuracy (i.e., as measured with the explicit sequence-threshold) and ix enhanced implicit time processing (i.e., as measured with the Simon effect) at the functional level. Such effects were not seen for the visual ambiguous figure of the Necker cube (another measure to capture the experienced duration of the present moment) and the detection of sequences of visual stimuli in the millisecond range (capturing the functional moment). The results of the metronome task suggest that mindfulness-meditation states and mindfulness as a trait modulate certain temporal integration mechanisms compatible with the experience of the present moment. These temporal changes seem to be intimately related to autonomic activity providing further understanding of the role of mind-body interactions on the present moment. Additional work will be needed to illuminate the mechanisms underlying the experience of the present moment. The study of meditative states, describable as changes in the present moment experience, remains a promising approach.
... Qualitative research approaches provide an opportunity to adapt the MBSR format to learn from older adults' lived experiences in understanding quantified clinical outcomes. Yet despite calls for greater inclusion of mixed-methods mindfulness research (Grossman, 2019), mechanistic theories tend to be driven by the perspectives of clinician scientists who helped validate MBSR efficacy in younger community samples over a decade ago. This pioneering work enshrined an operational definition of mindfulness as (i) regulating attention towards present-moment awareness, and (ii) holding a curious and accepting orientation to experience (c.f., Bishop et al., 2004). ...
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Objectives Older adulthood presents unique challenges to mental health. We explored how a mindfulness training intervention adapted for older adults addressed these challenges, contributing to a qualitative profile of mindfulness pedagogy for older adults. Methods Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was adapted for a geriatric community sample with elevated depressive symptoms. Intervention effects were examined through a combination of scale-based assessment and qualitative interviews. Scales measured depressive symptoms, cognitive function, quality of life, and mindful attitudes. Interviews assessed stressors, goals, perceived obstacles, outcomes, and practice habits. A grounded-theory approach was used to identify responses in each category. Multiple regression analyses were used to identify qualitative responses that best predicted symptom reduction. Results The program was well-tolerated, positively endorsed, and associated with reduced depressive symptoms. Qualitatively, participants who identified family and mood as their primary stressors benefitted the most from course participation. A focus on present moment awareness was associated with decreased depressive symptoms, whereas a focus on hedonics, i.e., “feeling good,” was associated with poorer treatment outcomes. Participants maintained strong future practice intentions and preferred guided meditations to self-directed practice. Conclusions The adapted MBSR program was well-tolerated and efficacious in a geriatric community sample. Efficacy may be improved by emphasizing skill development outcomes rather than achievement of positive feeling states, and by prioritizing program referrals for coping with socioemotional rather than environmental stressors. Future research could extend this mixed-methods approach to deepen our understanding of the relationship between participants’ lived experiences and clinical outcomes.
... While mindfulness practice is associated with a variety of effects, a main mechanism explaining the practice's potential for fostering sustainable consumer choices is the stimulation of introspective ability, that is, the ability to consciously observe one's subjective experience . Mindfulness meditation has been essentially described as an introspective practice in which awareness of internal processes such as thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations is systematically cultivated (Chiesa and Malinowski, 2011;Grossman, 2018). This systematic introspection allows individuals to access inner states and processes that often remain unconscious (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974;Wilson, 2004). ...
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The need for reducing meat consumption in affluent countries is increasingly recognized as crucial to minimizing carbon footprint. However, confronting individuals with rational arguments can prompt emotional discomfort, which is often relieved by engaging in rationalization processes stabilizing current consumption patterns. Mindfulness research suggests that making people aware of their emotional reactions through introspection can reduce these rationalization processes. In this mixed-method pilot experimental study, we inquired whether a single guided introspection, inspired by the micro-phenomenological interview technique, can alter individuals' experience of and abilities to deal with cognitive dissonance. Furthermore, we asked if such an intervention can stimulate attitude or intention changes concerning meat consumption. After inducing cognitive dissonance by exposing participants to pictures of the slaughter of a cow, the intervention group (n = 36) participated in the guided introspection, while the control group (n = 39) played solitaire. Self-report questionnaire measures of emotional discomfort, rationalization strategies, and attitudes towards meat consumption were administered before and after the intervention. Also, open-ended responses to participants’ experience of the study were analyzed. Quantitative results show significantly lower negative attitudes toward reducing meat consumption in the intervention group compared to the control group (partial η² = 0.107). Qualitative results indicate that these participants are more aware of negative emotions while engaging less in rationalization strategies. We conclude that our study indicates some potential for guided introspection to affect dissonance resolution and provide suggestions for future research.
... Further research is needed to determine precise psychosocial mechanisms linking mindfulness training with changes in stress-related biological processes. Mindfulness training cultivates a lens shift for relating to daily life experiences with equanimity, a commonly reported phenomenon that has been elusive to assess via self-report (Grossman, 2019). This shift may explain why MBSR participants showed larger increases in inflammatory competence despite greater home practice among HEP participants; whereas health behaviors must be practiced regularly to maintain benefit, the informal integration of mindfulness skills into daily life might reinforce mindful responding toward psychosocial stress in ways that interrupt stress response cascades. ...
Article
Loneliness is a potent psychosocial stressor that predicts poor health and mortality among older adults, possibly in part by accelerating age-related declines in immunocompetence. Mindfulness interventions have shown promise for reducing loneliness and improving markers of physical health. In a sample of lonely older adults, this two-arm parallel trial tested whether mindfulness training enhances stimulated interleukin-6 (IL-6) production, a measure of innate immune responsivity. Lonely older adults (65-85 years; N=190) were randomized to an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or control Health Enhancement Program (HEP) intervention. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated production of IL-6 was measured in vitro by blinded outcome assessors at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and 3-month follow-up. Mixed-effects linear models tested time (pre, post, follow-up) by condition (MBSR vs. HEP) effects. As predicted, a significant time × condition effect on stimulated IL-6 production was observed across pre, post, and follow-up timepoints. Significant MBSR vs. HEP differences emerged from pre- to post-intervention (p=.009, d=.38) and from pre-intervention to 3-month follow-up (p=.017, d=.35), with larger increases in IL-6 production following MBSR compared to HEP. No study-related adverse events were reported. Results show that mindfulness training may be effective for boosting innate immunocompetence among lonely older adults. Given that immunocompetence tends to decline with age, mindfulness training may help to counteract the effects of aging and psychosocial stress on infection risk and recovery from injury.
... Deepening our knowledge of possible active principles of mindfulness would allow us to identify practices that increase the capacity for mindfulness and determine how these practices affect the physical and psychological wellbeing of individuals (Baer 2009;Grossman 2019) and their relationships. ...
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Little is known about the impact of mindfulness on psychological wellbeing, anxiety, and avoidance in couple relationships. In emerging adulthood, intimate relationships are associated with life satisfaction and changes that can cause psychological maladjustment. This study seeks to determine if dispositional mindfulness acts as a protective variable between psychological wellbeing, anxiety, and avoidance and identify the factors that are protectors. A sample was obtained of 391 young university students between 18 and 25 years old. The Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, the Ryff Scales of Psychological Wellbeing, and the Experiences in Close Relationships Scale were used. The results show that the highest levels of dispositional mindfulness are associated with greater psychological wellbeing. Dispositional mindfulness cannot act as a protective variable against anxiety and avoidance, and values were non-significant in intimate relationships. It is necessary to continue investigating the most protective facets of mindfulness for both anxiety and avoidance.
... Second, self-report questionnaires are facing strong criticisms, including the arguments that (1) respondents are not able to evaluate themselves due to cognitive biases (Dunning, 2011), (2) self-reports do not correspond to actual behavior (Baumeister et al. 2007), and (3) the interpretation of mindfulness questionnaire items, particularly between non-meditators and experienced meditators, leads to absurd results (for instance heroin addicts score higher in mindfulness compared to long-term meditators; Dakwar et al. 2011;Grossman, 2019). Last, state and trait dimensions, be them self-reported, peer-reported, or observed, are not necessarily behavioral predictors. ...
Article
Over time mindfulness research and practice has taken on diverse basic assumptions and theoretical traditions, and the pseudo‐scientific use of the term has become more prevalent. Given the ubiquitousness of both personal and professional applications of mindfulness, the need for a thorough understanding of its theoretical cornerstones is necessary. In this review, we use bibliometric techniques to uncover the field's intellectual roots (Study 1), and document bibliographic coupling analysis to illuminate current research avenues across management disciplines (Study 2). Our bibliometric process covers 48 references for co‐citation and 238 articles for bibliographic coupling analyses, respectively, published between 2012 and 2020. Co‐citation analysis reveals a shift of focus from the past two historical mindfulness schools of thought (Eastern and Western) to a novel intellectual structure of the mindfulness field articulated around three distinct yet overlapping research streams. We propose integrative ways to advance mindfulness research by unpacking mindfulness processes, dimensions and development, arguing that the integration of these three main foci is necessary to advance understanding of mindfulness. Bibliometric coupling analysis identifies eight management‐related mindfulness research themes. We discuss the extent to which these eight themes have comparably explored the three foci (mindfulness processes, dimensions and development) highlighted in our model. Lastly, we use our theory‐driven review to draw on under‐developed areas of research, identifying profitable directions for future research on mindfulness in the workplace and beyond.
... Finally, due to the impact of mindfulness training on meta-awareness, observed sustained adverse responding in daily living at post-intervention may in part be a function of greater awareness of internal states rather than objective deterioration in these internal states. Future study of adverse effects may be a particularly important domain for other-observer, clinician ratings, or performance-based behavioral or cognitive measurement methods (Davidson & Kaszniak, 2015;Grossman, 2019;Hadash & Bernstein, 2019). ...
Article
Objective The study of safety and adverse effects of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) is limited. We propose a novel reliable change index (RCI) approach to experience sampling (ES) data to begin to understand the common domains, frequency, severity, risk for, and context of adverse responding to mindfulness meditation practice and brief MBI. Methods Over the course of a 21-day MBI among 82 meditation-naïve participants, we estimated (i) momentary adverse effects during mindfulness meditation practice and (ii) sustained adverse effects in daily living following the intervention. Results First, RCI analyses of experience sampling of mindfulness meditation document that 87% of participants demonstrated at least one momentary adverse effect during meditation, most commonly anxiety; and subject-level temporal variability or instability in experience samples of daily living did not account for momentary adverse effects attributed to mindfulness meditation sessions. Second, 25% of participants experienced a sustained adverse effect in daily living at post-intervention. Yet, neither momentary adverse effects to meditation nor vulnerability factors at pre-intervention predicted adverse effects at post-intervention. Conclusions Findings illustrate that mindfulness meditation may be transiently anxiogenic for many participants, yet, these experiences are unlikely to constitute objective harm per se. Furthermore, observed deterioration in daily living post-intervention cannot be attributed to momentary adverse effects in response to mindfulness meditation. We speculate that observed deterioration in daily living post-intervention may thus be better explained by increased awareness to internal states following mindfulness training. Findings highlight the potential utility of applying a RCI approach to intensive ES measurement to quantify adverse effects of mindfulness training specifically and mental health interventions broadly.
... Baer et al. (2008) found that all FFMQ facets except Acting with awareness are associated with meditation experience. However, there are also discussions in the literature that non-meditators may actually score higher on self-report measures (Grossman, 2019) due to the Dunning-Kruger effect, which states that unskilled people are ignorant to their lack of skills as opposed to experts (Dunning, 2011). Having said that, in a recent study with an appropriate sample size we could not find differences in selfreported mindfulness between meditators and non-meditators (Roemer et al., 2021). ...
Article
Objectives: Pressures in daily life limit one's ability to be authentic and research shows that inauthenticity can be detrimental to mental health. Mindfulness is known to have a protective effect on mental health through an accepting and nonjudgmental stance. This study aimed to establish whether mindfulness buffers the relationship between inauthenticity and depression. Method: A cross-sectional sample of employed individuals in New Zealand (n=301) completed an online survey assessing their levels of authenticity, mindfulness, and depression. Results: Findings indicate that authenticity and mindfulness together explain 29% of variance in depression. In addition, mindfulness can buffer the negative impact of low authenticity on depression. Conclusion: Inauthenticity is related to higher levels of depression, but mindfulness is able to buffer this impact. These findings imply that engaging in mindfulness practice may be beneficial for mental health when individuals experience reduced authenticity.
... First, a substantial number of psychological self-report measures have been published, but there is growing consensus that many scales used to capture meditationrelated constructs, including established gold standard measures, are psychometrically and conceptually limited (e.g. Grossman, 2019;Strauss et al., 2016). Second, the field is witnessing the introduction of a quickly growing number of new self-report measures purported to more adequately capture already established constructs or to capture new constructs for meditation research (see Van Dam et al., 2018). ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Deepening our understanding of the mechanisms by which meditation practices impact well-being and human flourishing is essential for advancing the science of meditation. A recent phenomenologically grounded classification system distinguishes attentional, constructive, and deconstructive forms of meditation based on the psychological mechanisms these practices primarily target or necessitate. Our main aim was to understand whether this theory-based taxonomy could be used as a guiding principle for combining established psychological self-report measures of meditation-related mechanisms into psychometrically adequate composite scores. Methods We used cross-sectional data to compute meditation composite scores in three independent samples, namely meditation-naïve healthy older adults from the Age-Well trial (n = 135), meditation-naïve older adults with subjective cognitive decline from the SCD-Well trial (n = 147), and healthy long-term meditators (≥ 10,000 h of practice including one 3-year meditation retreat) from the Brain & Mindfulness project (n = 29). The psychometric properties of the composite scores were assessed via floor and ceiling effects, composite intercorrelations, interpretability, and convergent validity in relation to well-being, anxiety, and depression. Results Three theoretically derived meditation composite scores, reflecting mechanisms involved in attentional, constructive, and deconstructive practices, displayed adequate psychometric properties. Separate secondary confirmatory factor analyses empirically corroborated the theoretically predicted three-factor structure of this classification system. Conclusions Complementing data-driven approaches, this study offers preliminary support for using a theoretical model of meditation-related mechanisms to create empirically meaningful and psychometrically sound composite scores. We conclude by suggesting conceptual and methodological considerations for future research in this area.
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Zusammenfassung Achtsamkeit liegt sowohl in der psychologischen Forschung als auch in vielen gesellschaftlichen Bereichen im Trend. Dieser Artikel wirft einen achtsamen Blick auf den aktuellen Forschungsstand. Dabei werden zum einen diverse methodische Limitationen bei der empirischen Untersuchung von Achtsamkeit deutlich, wodurch valide Aussagen über tatsächliche Effekte nach wie vor nur begrenzt möglich sind. Zum anderen wird eine Forschungslücke bei möglichen unerwünschten Auswirkungen identifiziert. So sind negative Konsequenzen beispielsweise auf interpersoneller und moralischer Ebene theoretisch plausibel herleitbar. Insgesamt kann ein Bedarf an weiterer Forschung konstatiert werden.
Chapter
Mindfulness wordt met succes toegepast binnen de leefstijlgeneeskunde, met name voor het terugdringen van ziektelast of ziekteverschijnselen en ter verbetering van de kwaliteit van leven bij patiëntenpopulaties met uiteenlopende fysieke of mentale gezondheidsproblemen. Het doel van dit hoofdstuk is om de zorgprofessional een beknopte wetenschappelijke basis te geven voor de toepassingsmogelijkheden van mindfulness in de dagelijkse klinische praktijk. Dit hoofdstuk gaat daarom in op het begrip mindfulness en de mogelijkheid tot het trainen van mindfulness door middel van gestandaardiseerde mindfulnessprogramma’s, de werkingsmechanismen van mindfulness en de toepassing van mindfulness binnen de gezondheidszorg. Het besteedt tevens aandacht aan de inzet van mindfulness voor het verminderen van stress, voor het adequaat omgaan met ziekte en voor het bevorderen van gezonde gewoonten. Dit hoofdstuk licht tot slot toe hoe vaardigheden van mindfulness bijdragen aan het professioneel functioneren van zorgprofessionals.
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Over the past two decades, mindfulness meditation has received increasing attention in academia and various fields of practice. More recently, it has also been introduced into environmental and sustainability education (ESE) settings. This study offers a first exploratory investigation of learner experiences with consumption-specific mindfulness training. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 training participants. Data analysis was undertaken applying a pluralistic qualitative methods approach. Our results draw an ambivalent picture. On the one hand, we found that mindfulness training can connect individuals with inner states and processes that are also relevant to their consumer behavior, thus providing valuable impulses for ESE. On the other hand, however, these generic learning outcomes do not easily translate to consumptive acts. One explanation for this is that mindfulness practice can sometimes serve as a self-confirmation process that reinforces prevailing values, expectations, and intentions. This indicates important challenges mindfulness practice poses in ESE.
Article
Research investigating the effects and underlying mechanisms of mindfulness on cognitive functioning has accelerated exponentially over the past two decades. Despite the rapid growth of the literature and its influential role in garnering public interest in mindfulness, inconsistent methods in defining and measuring mindfulness have yielded variable findings, which contribute to the overall dearth of clear generalizable conclusions. The focus of this article is to address the lack of cohesion in the collective methodologies used in this domain by providing a new perspective grounded in classic cognitive and experimental psychology principles. We leverage the concept of converging operations to demonstrate how seemingly disparate research strategies can be integrated towards a more unified and systematic approach. An organizing taxonomic framework is described to provide useful structure in how mindfulness can be operationalized, measured, and investigated. We illustrate the rationale and core organizing principles of the framework through a selective review of studies on mindfulness and cognitive control. We then demonstrate the utility of the approach by showing how it can be applied to synthesize extant methodologies and guide the development of future research. Specific suggestions and examples pertaining to experimental design and statistical analysis are provided.
Article
Resilience has been conceptualised as a pathway through which mindfulness influences mental health. Despite a growing body of research evidence substantiating this claim, the empirical literature is devoid of support for this account in early adolescence. This study aimed to extend the evidence base by investigating resilience as a mediator in the putative cross-sectional relationship between mindfulness and positive mental health. One hundred twenty-nine elementary school students completed the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale for Children, Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale–10, and Adolescent Mental Health Continuum-Short Form. Correlational analyses revealed small-to-moderate, statistically significant relationships between the variables. Mediation analysis demonstrated a statistically significant indirect effect of mindfulness on positive mental health through resilience. The findings provide preliminary support for the aforementioned conceptual model and have implications for innovative research in mindfulness.
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Background and Objectives: Few studies have focused on the utility of mindfulness-meditation for well-being in older adults. The present study investigated the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of an app-based mindfulness-meditation program among older adults. Research Design and Methods: A community-based sample of 46 participants aged between 63 and 81 (M = 70.85, SD = 4.70) engaged with a 30-day app-based mindfulness-meditation program for 10-minutes daily on their smartphones. Each meditation session comprised focusing on the breath, mentally scanning the body, monitoring the mind’s activity, and cultivating a nonjudgmental orientation toward experiences. Participants completed questionnaires at baseline, day 10, and day 30. Results: On average, participants completed 25 sessions and almost 4 hours of application use across the 30-days. Results of linear mixed effects models showed significant improvements in positive affect, negative affect, and life satisfaction across the study interval, but no meaningful change in total mindfulness or perceived stress. Furthermore, relative to high levels of smartphone efficacy, low smartphone efficacy was associated with higher perceived stress and negative affect, and less life satisfaction at baseline; and steeper improvements on these outcomes across the study interval. On average, older adults rated the app-based mindfulness-meditation training as interesting, enjoyable, valuable, and useful. Discussion and Implications: The findings provide preliminary support for the feasibility and acceptability of an app-based mindfulness-meditation program with community-dwelling older adults and demonstrate potential benefits for well-being. Results suggest the value of further research investigating the efficacy of digital mindfulness-meditation interventions for older adults via larger randomized-controlled trials. ***Full text available at https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnaa093/5871388***
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La pleine conscience est en pleine expansion à la fois en tant qu'intervention et comme sujet de recherche dans les domaines de la psychologie et de la médecine. Cependant, la conceptualisation et l'évaluation de la pleine conscience en tant que phénomène psychologique restent controversées et sources de confusion. Cette revue de la littérature recense les définitions opérationnelles de la pleine conscience afin d'identifier ses caractéristiques essentielles par une analyse de contenu. La constitution de ces critères nous a permis d'évaluer la validité de contenu des échelles de mesures de pleine conscience les plus utilisées. Face aux limites des échelles par questionnaire, des méthodes alternatives de mesure sont proposées pour progresser dans la conceptualisation empiriquement fondée de la pleine conscience.
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Objectives The present research was intended to validate a new psychometric instrument—the Meditative State Scale (MSS)—designed from a novel approach that integrates knowledge from the foundational pillars in which meditation practices were grounded with recent neuroscientific and psychological findings. Methods The research was divided into two studies. Study 1 (n = 241) comprised the development and validation of the MSS. Its factor structure was evaluated through the conduction of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. Measurement invariance of the MSS across groups of naïve and experienced meditators was also tested. A selection of additional instruments were used to further assess its convergent and discriminant validity. In study 2, additional validity of the MSS was investigated with an experimental design (n = 12) in which the electroencephalographic (EEG) signal was recorded while the participants were meditating. Next, the correlations between EEG activity and reported MSS scores were explored. Results Study 1 established psychometric reliability and validity of the MSS, supporting a three-factor structure encompassing a first factor of “transcendence,” a second factor of “difficulties,” and a third factor of “mental quietening.” The MSS also shows configural, metric, and partial scalar invariance across beginners and experienced meditators. In study 2, we found associations between reported MSS scores and changes in EEG gamma activity in parietal and occipital areas while engaging in meditation practice. Conclusions We expect that the MSS can contribute to synergistically explore meditative states, combining reliable psychometric measures of the meditative state with neurophysiological data. Thus, it may be possible to reach a better understanding of the complex mechanisms that are involved in meditation practice and a more grounded and rigorous application of meditation-based programs in research, educational, and clinical contexts.
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Objective: We investigated common and dissociable neural and psychological correlates of two widely used meditation-based stress reduction programs. Methods: Participants were randomized to the Relaxation Response (RR; n = 18; 56% female) or the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR; n = 16; 56% female) programs. Both programs use a "bodyscan" meditation; however, the RR program explicitly emphasizes physical relaxation during this practice, whereas the MBSR program emphasizes mindful awareness with no explicit relaxation instructions. After the programs, neural activity during the respective meditation was investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Results: Both programs were associated with reduced stress (for RR, from 14.1 ± 6.6 to 11.3 ± 5.5 [Cohen's d = 0.50; for MBSR, from 17.7 ± 5.7 to 11.9 ± 5.0 [Cohen's d = 1.02]). Conjunction analyses revealed functional coupling between ventromedial prefrontal regions and supplementary motor areas (p < .001). The disjunction analysis indicated that the RR bodyscan was associated with stronger functional connectivity of the right inferior frontal gyrus-an important hub of intentional inhibition and control-with supplementary motor areas (p < .001, family-wise error [FWE] rate corrected). The MBSR program was uniquely associated with improvements in self-compassion and rumination, and the within-group analysis of MBSR bodyscan revealed significant functional connectivity of the right anterior insula-an important hub of sensory awareness and salience-with pregenual anterior cingulate during bodyscan meditation compared with rest (p = .03, FWE corrected). Conclusions: The bodyscan exercises in each program were associated with both overlapping and differential functional coupling patterns, which were consistent with each program's theoretical foundation. These results may have implications for the differential effects of these programs for the treatment of diverse conditions.
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The current study responded to the need for more empirical investigations into differences in the conceptualization of mindfulness between Buddhism and Western psychology. Five senior clergy from three branches of Buddhism were interviewed for their opinion on the Mindfulness Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS), Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS), Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), and Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory-30 (FMI-30). The interviewees also rated the questionnaire items for an ideal Buddhist in their tradition, in order to provide a stimulus for discussion and to collect quantitative data along with the qualitative data. Eight themes in relation to the elements and features of Buddhist mindfulness emerged from thematic analysis. The themes indicated that there are considerable differences between Buddhist mindfulness and mindfulness as presented by items in the questionnaires. While mindfulness in psychology is frequently conceptualized as non-judgmental, present-centered awareness, Buddhist mindfulness contains elements of attentional flexibility, skillfulness, purposefulness, wisdom, and ethics. Buddhist mindfulness not only involves awareness of the present but also the past and future. It not only focuses on self but also on others. The quantitative results revealed that the MAAS and the FMI-30 appeared less incongruent with Buddhist mindfulness than the KIMS and the FFMQ. Any conceptual differences highlighted in the present study provide avenues for future research as aspects unique to Buddhist mindfulness practice may be linked to psychological benefits also in secular contexts, thus assisting efforts to investigate to what extent secularization of mindfulness practice may have resulted in loss of some potentially beneficial characteristics.
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The Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire’s (FFMQ) Observing facet shows unexpected relationships with psychological symptoms and other mindfulness measures, especially in non-meditators. To address this issue, this study examined the construct validity and reliability of the FFMQ Observing facet together with “observing” items from other mindfulness questionnaires. The study analysed responses of 219 participants to questions about meditation practice, self-report scales designed to measure stress, anxiety, worry, overall mindfulness, and an item-pool of questions measuring the observing construct. An exploratory factor analysis of the observing item pool including all participants (meditators and non-meditators) identified three factors including Body Observing, Emotion Awareness and External Perception. The Emotion Awareness factor was the only one to correlate with psychological symptoms, and did so in the expected direction in both meditators and non-meditators. The FFMQ did not have any items which loaded on this factor. A reliable and valid observing facet should include awareness of emotions, and the results suggest that the absence of this in the FFMQ may explain the anomalous function of the FFMQ Observing facet. These findings have implications for improvement of multi-dimensional mindfulness measures.
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Caregivers often manage the aggressive behavior of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities that reside in community group homes. Sometimes this results in adverse outcomes for both the caregivers and the care recipients. We provided a 7-day intensive Mindfulness-Based Positive Behavior Support (MBPBS) training to caregivers from community group homes and assessed the outcomes in terms of caregiver variables, individuals’ behaviors, and an administrative outcome. When compared to pre-MBPBS training, the training resulted in the caregivers using significantly less physical restraints, and staff stress and staff turnover were considerably reduced. The frequency of injury to caregivers and peers caused by the individuals was significantly reduced. A benefit-cost analysis showed substantial financial savings due to staff participation in the MBPBS program. This study provides further proof of concept for the effectiveness of MBPBS training for caregivers, and strengthens the call for training staff in mindfulness meditation.
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Attention is critical for successful performance in demanding real-world situations. Yet, protracted periods of high demand may compromise attention and increase off-task thinking. Herein, we investigate if mindfulness training (MT) may promote cognitive resilience by curbing attentional lapses in high-stress cohorts. Two military cohorts were recruited during their high-stress predeployment interval. Mindfulness-based Mind Fitness Training (MMFT)® was provided to one group (MT, N = 31) but not the other group (military control group, MC, N = 24). The MT group attended an 8-week MMFT® course and logged the amount of out-of-class time spent practicing formal MT exercises. The Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) was used to index objective attentional performance and subjective ratings of mind wandering before (T1) and after (T2) the MT course. In the MT group, changes in SART measures correlated with the amount of time spent engaging in MT homework practice, with greater objective performance benefits (indexed by A′, a sensitivity measure), and reduced subjective reports of mind wandering over time in those who engaged in high practice vs. low practice. Performance measures in the low practice and MC groups significantly declined from T1 to T2. In contrast, the high practice group remained stable over time. These results suggest that engaging in sufficient MT practice may protect against attentional lapses over high-demand intervals. Based on these results, we argue that MT programs emphasizing greater engagement in mindfulness practice should be further investigated as a route by which to build cognitive resilience in high-stress cohorts.
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In the research reported here, we investigated the debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation on the sunk-cost bias. We conducted four studies (one correlational and three experimental); the results suggest that increased mindfulness reduces the tendency to allow unrecoverable prior costs to influence current decisions. Study 1 served as an initial correlational demonstration of the positive relationship between trait mindfulness and resistance to the sunk-cost bias. Studies 2a and 2b were laboratory experiments examining the effect of a mindfulness-meditation induction on increased resistance to the sunk-cost bias. In Study 3, we examined the mediating mechanisms of temporal focus and negative affect, and we found that the sunk-cost bias was attenuated by drawing one's temporal focus away from the future and past and by reducing state negative affect, both of which were accomplished through mindfulness meditation.
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The Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) is a widely used questionnaire of self-reported mindfulness. However, doubts have been expressed as to whether an adequate comprehension of the items of the FMI is independent of one's mindfulness experience (ME). The aim of the present study was to determine with qualitative methods whether and how ME influences the response to the FMI items. Two groups, matched for gender, education, and age (N = 11 each), with and without mindfulness training, completed the FMI while at the same time applying the technique of thinking aloud. The protocols of the two samples were compared using three different strategies: (1) predefined criteria on the comprehension of each item developed by FMI experts, (2) a coding scheme developed to identify differences in specific cognitive processes, and (3) qualitative analysis of comprehension patterns. The results showed that (1) participants with ME fulfilled the item criteria for comprehension much more than participants without ME. (2) The coding scheme demonstrated greater comprehension difficulties in the sample without ME. Differences in judgment processes between groups could not be found. (3) Qualitative analysis revealed comprehension problem patterns especially for eight items for the comparison group. It is concluded that a modification of the wording of several FMI items is necessary and that there is insufficient construct validity to use the current FMI in mindfulness-naïve samples. This may also be true for other scales tapping into the assessment of the awareness component of mindfulness, and it is recommended to also check their construct validity.
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Although Western psychological mindfulness shares many common features with Buddhist mindfulness, subtle differences in the way in which it is practiced and assessed may have important implications. Therefore, the primary goal of this qualitative study was to evaluate the cultural validity of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and Toronto Mindfulness Scale (TMS) by using cognitive interviews among a sample of Buddhist clergy and laypersons to assess their perceptions of these two scales. Participants were 14 Zen Buddhists (seven laypersons, six Zen priests, and one in priest the ordination process) recruited from a monastery in the Pacific Northwestern USA. Each participant completed a cognitive interview using the FFMQ and TMS. We developed a coding schema to identify and categorize participant responses and then applied the final coding framework to all 14 interviews. Results revealed perceived concerns and strengths of each scale, as well as concerns regarding content deemed missing from both scales and general issues related to mindfulness self-assessment. These findings suggest that Buddhist and Western psychological conceptualizations of mindfulness may have important differences.
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This study was designed to evaluate potential preventive effects of meditation or exercise on incidence, duration, and severity of acute respiratory infection (ARI) illness. Community-recruited adults aged 50 years and older were randomized to 1 of 3 study groups: 8-week training in mindfulness meditation, matched 8-week training in moderate-intensity sustained exercise, or observational control. The primary outcome was area-under-the-curve global illness severity during a single cold and influenza season, using the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey (WURSS-24) to assess severity. Health care visits and days of missed work were counted. Nasal wash collected during ARI illness was assayed for neutrophils, interleukin-8, and viral nucleic acid. Of 154 adults randomized into the study, 149 completed the trial (82% female, 94% white, mean age 59.3 ± 6.6 years). There were 27 ARI episodes and 257 days of ARI illness in the meditation group (n = 51), 26 episodes and 241 illness days in the exercise group (n = 47), and 40 episodes and 453 days in the control group (n = 51). Mean global severity was 144 for meditation, 248 for exercise, and 358 for control. Compared with control, global severity was significantly lower for meditation (P = .004). Both global severity and total days of illness (duration) trended toward being lower for the exercise group (P=.16 and P=.032, respectively), as did illness duration for the meditation group (P=.034). Adjusting for covariates using zero-inflated multivariate regression models gave similar results. There were 67 ARI-related days of-work missed in the control group, 32 in the exercise group (P = .041), and 16 in the meditation group (P <.001). Health care visits did not differ significantly. Viruses were identified in 54% of samples from meditation, 42% from exercise, and 54% from control groups. Neutrophil count and interleukin-8 levels were similar among intervention groups. Training in meditation or exercise may be effective in reducing ARI illness burden.
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The Buddhist construct of mindfulness is a central element of mindfulness-based interventions and derives from an age-old systematic phenomenological program to investigate subjective experience. Recent enthusiasm for "mindfulness" in psychology has resulted in proliferation of self-report inventories that purport to measure mindful awareness as a trait. This paper addresses a number of intractable issues regarding these scales, in general, and also specifically highlights vulnerabilities of the adult and adolescent forms of the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale. These problems include (a) lack of available external referents for determining the construct validity of these inventories, (b) inadequacy of content validity of measures, (c) lack of evidence that self-reports of mindfulness competencies correspond to actual behavior and evidence that they do not, (d) lack of convergent validity among different mindfulness scales, (e) inequivalence of semantic item interpretation among different groups, (f) response biases related to degree of experience with mindfulness practice, (g) conflation of perceived mindfulness competencies with valuations of importance or meaningfulness, and (h) inappropriateness of samples employed to validate questionnaires. Current self-report attempts to measure mindfulness may serve to denature, distort, and banalize the meaning of mindful awareness in psychological research and may adversely affect further development of mindfulness-based interventions. Opportunities to enrich positivist Western psychological paradigms with a detailed and complex Buddhist phenomenology of the mind are likely to require a depth of understanding of mindfulness that, in turn, depends upon direct and long-term experience with mindfulness practice. Psychologists should consider pursuing this avenue before attempting to characterize and quantify mindfulness.
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Mindfulness training may be an effective treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). Little research has been done, however, on baseline levels of mindfulness in the substance using population. We investigated mindfulness levels using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) in individuals presenting for substance use treatment, and compared polydrug vs. monodrug users, as well as investigated for differences between groups based on substance used, predicting that group means would fall below the mean obtained from a large national adult sample, that the different drug groups would have comparable scores, and that the polydrug users would have a significantly lower score than do monodrug users. We found that the means of most drug groups were below the national mean, and that the polydrug users had a lower score on the MAAS than did monodrug users (4 vs. 3.6, p = 0.04). We were also surprised to find that opiate users had a significantly higher score (4.31) than did users of other substances (p = 0.02). These results suggest that mindfulness deficits may be common in the substance using population, that there may be sub-groups in which these deficits are more pronounced, and that they may be a suitable focus of SUD treatment. These findings lend support to the ongoing development of mindfulness-based treatments for SUDs, and suggest that particular sub-groups may benefit more than others. Future research can aim at clarifying these deficits, and at elucidating their clinical relevance.
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The authors examined the effects of mindfulness training on 2 aspects of mode of processing in depressed participants: degree of meta-awareness and specificity of memory. Each of these has been suggested as a maladaptive aspect of a mode of processing linked to persistence and recurrence of symptoms. Twenty-seven depressed participants, all of whom had experienced suicidal crises, described warning signs for their last crisis. These descriptions were blind-rated independently for meta-awareness and specificity. Participants were then randomly allocated to receive mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) plus treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU alone, and retested after 3 months. Results showed that, although comparable at baseline, patients randomized to MBCT displayed significant posttreatment differences in meta-awareness and specificity compared with TAU patients. These results suggest that mindfulness training may enable patients to reflect on memories of previous crises in a detailed and decentered way, allowing them to relate to such experiences in a way that is likely to be helpful in preventing future relapses.
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The study and practice of mindfulness is rapidly expanding in Western psychology. Recently developed self-report measures of mindfulness were derived from Western operationalizations and cross-cultural validation of many of these measures is lacking, particularly in Buddhist cultures. Therefore, this study examined the measurement equivalence of the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) and Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) among Thai (n=385) and American (n=365) college students. Multigroup confirmatory factor analysis models fit to the data revealed that the KIMS lacked configural invariance across groups, which precluded subsequent invariance tests, and although the MAAS demonstrated configural, metric, and partial scalar invariance, there was no significant latent mean MAAS difference between Thais and Americans. These findings suggest that Eastern and Western conceptualizations of mindfulness may have important differences.
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The authors examine the facet structure of mindfulness using five recently developed mindfulness questionnaires. Two large samples of undergraduate students completed mindfulness questionnaires and measures of other constructs. Psychometric properties of the mindfulness questionnaires were examined, including internal consistency and convergent and discriminant relationships with other variables. Factor analyses of the combined pool of items from the mindfulness questionnaires suggested that collectively they contain five clear, interpretable facets of mindfulness. Hierarchical confirmatory factor analyses suggested that at least four of the identified factors are components of an overall mindfulness construct and that the factor structure of mindfulness may vary with meditation experience. Mindfulness facets were shown to be differentially correlated in expected ways with several other constructs and to have incremental validity in the prediction of psychological symptoms. Findings suggest that conceptualizing mindfulness as a multifaceted construct is helpful in understanding its components and its relationships with other variables.
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Previous research on assessment of mindfulness by self-report suggests that it may include five component skills: observing, describing, acting with awareness, nonjudging of inner experience, and nonreactivity to inner experience. These elements of mindfulness can be measured with the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). The authors investigated several aspects of the construct validity of the FFMQ in experienced meditators and nonmeditating comparison groups. Consistent with predictions, most mindfulness facets were significantly related to meditation experience and to psychological symptoms and well-being. As expected, relationships between the observing facet and psychological adjustment varied with meditation experience. Regression and mediation analyses showed that several of the facets contributed independently to the prediction of well-being and significantly mediated the relationship between meditation experience and well-being. Findings support the construct validity of the FFMQ in a combination of samples not previously investigated.
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Seriously ill people typically confront an abundance of overwhelmingly unpleasant stimuli, events and processes. Long-term or acute serious disease, modalities of therapy, inhospitable treatment environments and loss of normal functions and roles, are all likely to create a feeling tone (i.e. Vedana) of extreme unpleasantness that can lead to emotions of sadness, anxiety, despair, depression, sense of isolation, alienation and betrayal. Nevertheless, research indicates that patients with serious disease may sometimes be able to cultivate a more benevolent stance to life circumstances by means of mindfulness practice, which may open them to new perspectives towards existential challenge. An analysis of the interplay between mindful awareness and the Vedana may provide insight into why sick people are motivated to ‘pay attention’ – even during highly unpleasant circumstances. The cultivation of qualities, such as kindness, non-conditionality, courage and equanimity, are integral to the practice of mindfulness and may provide an explanatory mechanism.
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Interest in mindfulness has risen exponentially in recent years, yet it remains unclear whether dispositional mindfulness represents a distinct and valid psychological construct. Mapping dispositional mindfulness onto well-established personality constructs is essential for developing and testing theoretical models of mindfulness. The current paper presents a critical review of dispositional mindfulness that examines historical context, operational definitions, measurement, and convergent and discriminant validity across personality domains. It is concluded that dispositional mindfulness: (a) is a multidimensional construct reflecting the focus and quality of attention, (b) appears to exist independently from other forms of mindfulness, such as learned or cultivated mindfulness, and (c) demonstrates associations with well-established personality traits, such as neuroticism and conscientiousness, yet appears to be conceptually unique. Whether dispositional mindfulness should be considered a basic tendency or a characteristic adaptation is fodder for future research. Additionally, research examining specific mechanisms underlying dispositional mindfulness (e.g., cognitive skills, attitudes) is needed to strengthen ongoing construct validation efforts. Researchers are encouraged to capitalize on the growing evidence base and approach DM as a unique individual difference factor strongly rooted in developmental, cognitive, and personality disciplines.
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We argue that the minimal biological requirements for consciousness include a living body, not just neuronal processes in the skull. Our argument proceeds by reconsidering the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment. Careful examination of this thought experiment indicates that the null hypothesis is that any adequately functional “vat” would be a surrogate body, that is, that the so-called vat would be no vat at all, but rather an embodied agent in the world. Thus, what the thought experiment actually shows is that the brain and body are so deeply entangled, structurally and dynamically, that they are explanatorily inseparable. Such entanglement implies that we cannot understand consciousness by considering only the activity of neurons apart from the body, and hence we have good explanatory grounds for supposing that the minimal realizing system for consciousness includes the body and not just the brain. In this way, we put the brain-in-a-vat thought experiment to a new use, one that supports the “enactive” view that consciousness is a life-regulation process of the whole organism interacting with its environment.
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In the last decade, a surge of interest has been directed towards the empirical investigation of the concept and applications of mindfulness. If one considers the increasing evidence about the clinical benefits and the psychological and neurobiological correlates of current mindfulness based interventions (MBIs), it is surprising that significantly lower effort has been directed towards the achievement of a consensus about an unequivocal operationalization of mindfulness within modern Western psychology. Accordingly, the present review aims to summarize traditional and current perspectives about mindfulness, to discuss the extent to which modern definitions of mindfulness differ from more traditional definitions and, more specifically, the limitations of current questionnaires that are thought to measure mindfulness levels, and to provide suggestions for future research on this topic. In sum, according to authors well versed in the original Buddhist literature, from which several MBIs are overtly or implicitly derived, modern attempts to operationalize mindfulness have consistently failed to provide an unequivocal definition of mindfulness, which takes into account the complexity of the original definitions of mindfulness. Although the concept of mindfulness remains elusive and difficult to capture by means of modern self-report questionnaires, however, several alternatives exist that could shed light on closely related constructs, which could deepen our understanding of mindfulness and that could lead to the development of new, not yet considered, categories of psychological effects associated with mindfulness training.
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Mindfulness has its roots in Eastern contemplative traditions and is rapidly gaining popularity in Western psychology. However, questions remain regarding the validity of Western operationalizations of mindfulness. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the applicability of several Western mindfulness measures among a sample of Thai Theravāda Buddhist monks. Twenty-four monks recruited from Buddhist temples in Thailand participated in the study. The monks evinced similar associations between mindfulness and related variables as American validation study samples did, and on two facets of mindfulness the monks’ mean scores were greater than an American college student sample. However, the American sample endorsed significantly higher scores on three other facets of mindfulness. These results raise concerns about whether these scales are measuring mindfulness as it is conceptualized in a Buddhist context. Future research with larger samples is needed to further assess the cultural validity and measurement equivalence of Western mindfulness measures across cultural groups.
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Psychology calls itself the science of behavior, and the American Psychological Association's current "Decade of Behavior" was intended to increase awareness and appreciation of this aspect of the science. Yet some psychological subdisciplines have never directly studied behavior, and studies on behavior are dwindling rapidly in other subdisciplines. We discuss the eclipse of behavior in personality and social psychology, in which direct observation of behavior has been increasingly supplanted by introspective self-reports, hypothetical scenarios, and questionnaire ratings. We advocate a renewed commitment to including direct observation of behavior whenever possible and in at least a healthy minority of research projects. © 2007 Association for Psychological Science.
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A study with low statistical power has a reduced chance of detecting a true effect, but it is less well appreciated that low power also reduces the likelihood that a statistically significant result reflects a true effect. Here, we show that the average statistical power of studies in the neurosciences is very low. The consequences of this include overestimates of effect size and low reproducibility of results. There are also ethical dimensions to this problem, as unreliable research is inefficient and wasteful. Improving reproducibility in neuroscience is a key priority and requires attention to well-established but often ignored methodological principles.
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Mindfulness is an increasingly prominent construct in health research but its study has been impeded by a lack of well-validated measures. The Mindful Attention and Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown and Ryan, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84:822–848, 2003) is a promising measure and the goal of the present study was to further validate the MAAS in a large university sample (n = 711). Confirmatory factor analysis supported the unidimensional factor structure of the MAAS in the overall sample. No gender differences in MAAS performance were evident, but the factor structure was not confirmed in the subsample of men, apparently due to power limitations. No categorical differences were evident based on experience with meditation, and MAAS performance was not significantly associated with experience with meditation. These findings are interpreted as broadly supporting the MAAS as a valid measure of mindfulness, but suggesting that novice-level experience with meditation should not be presumed to be associated with greater mindfulness.
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The effects of the severity of the emergency and the physical attractiveness of the solicitor (victim) on helping behavior were investigated in a field experiment and corresponding interpersonal simulation. In the field experiment, male subjects were approached by a physically attractive or unattractive female solicitor who asked for money for a tetanus injection under high or low severity of emergency conditions. Subjects donated more money to the solicitor when the severity of emergency was high. Additionally, the physically attractive solicitor received more money than the unattractive solicitor, but only when the severity of the emergency was high. In the interpersonal simulation, male subjects given a detailed description of one of the conditions of field experiment were unable to fully reproduce the findings of the experiment. The results are discussed in terms of the Piliavins' two-stage model of the helping process.
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Mindfulness has been defined as a state of consciousness involving intentional attention and awareness of the present moment. Reporting on past conscious experience is inherently tricky and presents unique challenges to the assessment of mindfulness. Mindfulness-present and mindfulness-absent items may represent different aspects of the construct to different populations resulting from differential skill in assessing sustained or lapsed conscious attention. The current study shows that an online sample of meditators and non-meditators with similar overall levels of mindfulness differentially endorse response options for positively and negatively worded items. While meditators endorse mindfulness-present and mindfulness-absent items with nearly equivalent frequency, student non-meditators are much more likely to reject mindfulness-absent items than to accept mindfulness-present items. The differential item functioning between these two groups represents a potential problem regarding construct validity when comparing meditators to non-meditators and when assessing mindfulness as a pre-post measure with meditation practice.
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Mindfulness is an attribute of consciousness long believed to promote well-being. This research provides a theoretical and empirical examination of the role of mindfulness in psychological well-being. The development and psychometric properties of the dispositional Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) are described. Correlational, quasi-experimental, and laboratory studies then show that the MAAS measures a unique quality of consciousness that is related to a variety of well-being constructs, that differentiates mindfulness practitioners from others, and that is associated with enhanced self-awareness. An experience-sampling study shows that both dispositional and state mindfulness predict self-regulated behavior and positive emotional states. Finally, a clinical intervention study with cancer patients demonstrates that increases in mindfulness over time relate to declines in mood disturbance and stress.
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This investigation used a non-randomized controlled design to evaluate the effect and feasibility of a mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) program on immune function, quality of life (QOL), and coping in women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Early stage breast cancer patients, who did not receive chemotherapy, self-selected into an 8-week MBSR program or into an assessment only, control group. Outcomes were evaluated over time. The first assessment was at least 10 days after surgery and prior to adjuvant therapy, as well as before the MBSR start-up. Further assessments were mid-MBSR, at completion of MBSR, and at 4-week post-MBSR completion. Women with breast cancer enrolled in the control group (Non-MBSR) were assessed at similar times. At the first assessment (i.e., before MBSR start), reductions in peripheral blood mononuclear cell NK cell activity (NKCA) and IFN-gamma production with increases in IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 production and plasma cortisol levels were observed for both the MBSR and Non-MBSR groups of breast cancer patients. Over time women in the MBSR group re-established their NKCA and cytokine production levels. In contrast, breast cancer patients in the Non-MBSR group exhibited continued reductions in NKCA and IFN-gamma production with increased IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 production. Moreover, women enrolled in the MBSR program had reduced cortisol levels, improved QOL, and increased coping effectiveness compared to the Non-MBSR group. In summary, MBSR is a program that is feasible for women recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and the results provide preliminary evidence for beneficial effects of MBSR; on immune function, QOL, and coping.
Interventions against norm violations
  • A Baumert
  • A Halmburger
  • M Schmitt
Baumert A, Halmburger A, Schmitt M: Interventions against norm violations. Pers Soc. Psychol Bull 2013, 39:1053-1068.