, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 33–44 | Cite as

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

  • Florian Belzer
  • Stefan Schmidt
  • Gabriele Lucius-Hoene
  • Johann F. Schneider
  • Claudia L. Orellana-Rios
  • Sebastian Sauer


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.


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



We would like to thank our participants who have given their time to take part in this study. We would like to thank Alf Martin and Andreas Schmidt for helping with the rating, Harald Walach for providing expert criteria. In addition, we like to thank Kathrin Simshaeuser, Christine Kalweit and Attila Goeroeg for proofreading the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian Belzer
    • 1
  • Stefan Schmidt
    • 1
  • Gabriele Lucius-Hoene
    • 2
  • Johann F. Schneider
    • 3
  • Claudia L. Orellana-Rios
    • 1
  • Sebastian Sauer
    • 4
  1. 1.Center for Meditation, Mindfulness and Neuroscience ResearchUniversity Medical Center FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  3. 3.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of SaarlandSaarbrückenGermany
  4. 4.Generation Research Program, Human Science CenterLudwig-Maximilians-UniversityMunichGermany

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