Growing by Letting Go: Nonattachment and Mindfulness as Qualities of Advanced Psychological Development

  • Richard Whitehead
  • Glen Bates
  • Brad Elphinstone


Psychological development continues throughout adulthood, with some individuals reaching advanced levels of adult psychological development. A focus of the present study was to investigate the Buddhist construct of nonattachment in relation to three elements of advanced psychological development: wisdom, self-actualisation and self-transcendence. The possibility that nonattachment mediates the relationship of mindfulness to these aspects of optimal psychological development was also investigated. Results from 348 university students supported expectations that nonattachment was positively related to wisdom, self-actualisation and self-transcendence and confirmed similar positive relationships for mindfulness. In addition, nonattachment was found to act as a partial mediator of mindfulness for all three aspects of advanced adult psychological development. Interestingly, an alternate mediational pathway was discovered as mindfulness was shown to mediate the relationship of nonattachment to measures of advanced psychological development. The results have implications for understanding the different pathways towards developing wisdom, self-actualisation and self-transcendence and provide insight into the possible mechanisms of mindfulness and nonattachment that help to explain their positive impact.


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Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesSwinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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