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Mindfulness: Relations to attention regulation, decentering, and psychological well-being
Halmstad University, School of Health and Welfare, Centre of Research on Welfare, Health and Sport (CVHI). Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The current research project consists of three separate studies. The general aim of this project was to contribute to previous mindfulness research by exploring fundamental aspects of mindfulness in an effort to increase the understanding of mindfulness as a construct as well as its mechanisms. The purpose of the study I was to investigate the relation between mindfulness and sustained and executive attention by comparing Buddhist and Western mindfulness meditators (n = 47) and non-meditators (n = 45) in performance on computerized attention. The main purpose of study II was to compare these meditators and non-meditators on self-reported mindfulness, and also to investigate whether facets of mindfulness mediate the relation between meditation experience and psychological well-being. Study III aimed at investigating the unique effects of mindfulness practice as well as the proposed mindfulness mechanism; decentering. A short-term mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) (n = 46) was compared with relaxation training (n = 40) and a waiting-list group (n = 40) on a battery of tests - executive attention, self-reported mindfulness, decentering, psychological well-being, anxiety, depression, and coping styles – in 126 employees with no prior meditation experience. The results showed no significant differences between meditators and non-meditators either in sustained or executive attention. Meditators rated themselves higher than non-meditators on four of the five facets of mindfulness. The multiple mediation analysis showed that the five mindfulness facets mediated the relationship between meditation experience and psychological well-being but no single facet contributed significantly. Simple mediation analyses indicated, however, that Non-React was the primary mediator. No unique mindfulness effects were found since there were no differences between mindfulness and relaxation in any of the variables. However, the mindfulness group scored higher than the waiting-list group on the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire total scale and psychological wellbeing. Meditators may have an increased awareness of internal processes and the ability to quickly attend to them, but this type of refined attentional ability does not seem to be related to performance on attention tests requiring quick responses to external targets. It may be concluded that effects on attention regulation are of less importance compared to other beneficial psychological and physiological health outcomes due to mindfulness meditation. Mediation analyses supported (i) the notion that meditation experience is related to increased mindfulness, which in turn is associated with improved psychological well-being, and (ii) the idea that increases in mindfulness lead to increased decentering abilities which in turn leads to improved psychological well-being. Possible explanations for the absence of unique group differences between mindfulness and relaxation are that the length of the intervention was too short and the sessions too few, similarities between body exercises in MBI and relaxation, and the lack of group differences on decentering. Investigating unique mindfulness effects to distinguish mindfulness effects from relaxation should be prioritized in future studies. The promising theory of mechanisms proposed in the Buddhist Psychological Model (BPM) needs to be empirically evaluated. MBI-related changes in selfperceptions, value systems, and ethical aspects may play a more important role for improved psychological health than what has previously been recognized. Other Buddhist practices such as loving-kindness meditation and compassion meditation also need to be examined. Finally, an in-depth dialogue between Western researchers, expert meditators, and Buddhist theoreticians may be increasingly important for mindfulness research to advance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: University of Gothenburg , 2013. , p. 104
Series
Avhandling / Göteborgs universitet, Psykologiska institutionen, ISSN 1101-718X ; 281
Keywords [en]
attention, buddhism, decentering, mediation analysis, meditation, mindfulness, psychological well-being
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-25048Libris ID: 14213663ISBN: 978-91-628-8716-2 ISBN: 978-91-628-8715-5 OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-25048DiVA, id: diva2:712235
Public defence
2013-06-02, Sal F 1, Psykologiska institutionen, Haraldsgatan 1, Göteborg, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2015-01-19 Created: 2014-04-14 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Meditators and non-meditators on sustained and executive attentional performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Meditators and non-meditators on sustained and executive attentional performance
2010 (English)In: Mental Health, Religion & Culture, ISSN 1367-4676, E-ISSN 1469-9737, Vol. 14, no 3, p. 291-309Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In order to gain a deeper understanding of the mindfulness construct and the mental health benefits associated with mindfulness-based programmes, the relation between mindfulness and its proposed core component attention was studied. Buddhist and Western mindfulness meditators were compared with non-meditators on tasks of sustained (SART) and executive (the Stroop Task) attention. Relations between self-reported mindfulness (FFMQ) and sustained and executive attention were also analysed. No significant differences were found between meditators and non-meditators either in sustained or executive attention. High scores on the FFMQ total scale and on Describe were related to fewer SART errors. High scores on Describe were also related to low Stroop interference. Mindfulness meditators may have an increased awareness of internal processes and the ability to quickly attend to them but this type of refined attentional ability does not seem to be related to performance on attention tests requiring responses to external targets.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge, 2010
Keywords
attention, meditation, mental health, mindfulness
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-25047 (URN)10.1080/13674670903578621 (DOI)2-s2.0-79952470046 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-04-14 Created: 2014-04-14 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved
2. Self-reported mindfulness mediates the relation between meditation experience and psychological well-being
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Self-reported mindfulness mediates the relation between meditation experience and psychological well-being
2011 (English)In: Mindfulness, ISSN 1868-8527, E-ISSN 1868-8535, Vol. 2, no 1, p. 49-58Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A well established notion in Buddhist literature is that meditation practice improves the ability to be mindful in daily life which in turn promotes psychological well-being. In order to test this hypothesis the relations between meditation experience, five mindfulness facets and psychological well-being were studied in a sample consisting of Buddhist meditators, Western mindfulness meditators and non-meditators. The meditators scored higher than non-meditators on all mindfulness facets except Describe, but when age and gender were controlled for there were significant differences only on Non-React and Observe. Multiple and simple mediation were tested in a path model framework. Length of meditation experience was related to Non-React and Observe, and there was a similar trend also for Non-Judge, suggesting that these mindfulness facets are the ones most strongly associated with mindfulness meditation practice. The multiple mediation analysis showed an indirect effect of meditation experience on psychological wellbeing via the five mindfulness facets. Simple mediation analyses indicated that Non-React was the primary mediator. These results support the notion that length of meditation experience is related to higher levels of mindfulness, which in turn is associated with improved well-being.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, United states: Springer-Verlag New York, 2011
Keywords
Mediation analysis, meditation, mindfulness, psychological well-being
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-25045 (URN)10.1007/s12671-011-0042-9 (DOI)2-s2.0-79960722853 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-04-14 Created: 2014-04-14 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved
3. The Effects of a Short-term Mindfulness Based Intervention on Self-reported Mindfulness, Decentering, Executive Attention, Psychological Health, and Coping Style: Examining Unique Mindfulness Effects and Mediators
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Effects of a Short-term Mindfulness Based Intervention on Self-reported Mindfulness, Decentering, Executive Attention, Psychological Health, and Coping Style: Examining Unique Mindfulness Effects and Mediators
2014 (English)In: Mindfulness, ISSN 1868-8527, E-ISSN 1868-8535, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 18-35Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The majority of mindfulness intervention studies do not include active control groups. To examine potential unique effects of mindfulness practice and to study the mechanism responsible for beneficial mental health effects associated with mindfulness-based interventions, the present study compared mindfulness meditation with an active control group in a randomised controlled trial. A short-term mindfulness-based intervention (n = 46) was compared with both an active control group—relaxation training (n = 40)—and an inactive wait-list group (n = 40) on self-reported mindfulness and decentering, executive attention, psychological well-being, anxiety, depression, and coping style, in an adult working population with no prior meditation experience. Analyses of covariance showed that the mindfulness group scored higher than the wait-list group on self-reported mindfulness and psychological well-being. However, no differences were found on decentering, anxiety, depression, executive attention, or coping style. Moreover, the study failed to distinguish any unique mindfulness effects since there were no differences between mindfulness and relaxation on any of the variables. Simple mediation analyses, using a bootstrap approach, revealed that decentering acted as a mediator between self-reported mindfulness and psychological well-being. The length of the intervention, the similarities between body scan exercises in MBI and relaxation, and the absence of decentering effects may partly explain the lack of distinct MBI effects, suggesting that MBIs aimed at increasing well-being and problem-focused coping whilst reducing psychological symptoms in a working population should be longer than merely 4 weeks and include more than seven sessions. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York, United States: Springer-Verlag New York, 2014
Keywords
mindfulness, meditation, psychological well-being, mechanism, relaxation, decentering
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-25044 (URN)10.1007/s12671-012-0142-1 (DOI)000339617700003 ()2-s2.0-84893298525 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2014-04-14 Created: 2014-04-14 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved

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Josefsson, Torbjörn

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