ORIGINAL PAPER

Mindfulness

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 33-44

First online:

Challenging the Construct Validity of Mindfulness Assessment—a Cognitive Interview Study of the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory

  • Florian BelzerAffiliated withCenter for Meditation, Mindfulness and Neuroscience Research, University Medical Center Freiburg
  • , Stefan SchmidtAffiliated withCenter for Meditation, Mindfulness and Neuroscience Research, University Medical Center Freiburg Email author 
  • , Gabriele Lucius-HoeneAffiliated withInstitute of Psychology, University of Freiburg
  • , Johann F. SchneiderAffiliated withInstitute of Psychology, University of Saarland
  • , Claudia L. Orellana-RiosAffiliated withCenter for Meditation, Mindfulness and Neuroscience Research, University Medical Center Freiburg
  • , Sebastian SauerAffiliated withGeneration Research Program, Human Science Center, Ludwig-Maximilians-University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) Construct validity Think-aloud technique Mindfulness assessment Qualitative analysis Mixed methods