Effects of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program on Mind Wandering and Dispositional Mindfulness Facets
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Mind wandering is characterized by the absence of cognitive focus on a task, due to interfering spontaneous mentation. Despite a large number of investigations on mind wandering and mindfulness training in recent years, very few studies have directly investigated the effects of mindfulness training on mind wandering. In this study, we originally investigated the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) training on objective and subjective indices of mind wandering, by using the sustained attention to response task (SART), in combination with the assessment of dispositional mindfulness facets through the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). To this aim, 60 participants were distributed into two groups using a stratified random assignment, based on meditation experience. One group took part in the training, whereas the other was a control, waiting condition. From this original sample, 37 people completed all assignments and were included in the study (20 in the experimental group and 17 in the control). We compared the performance at SART, as well as the dispositional measures of the two groups, before and after the intervention. We found that MBSR training led to a reduction of attentional lapses and to increased scores in self-reported dispositional mindfulness facets. However, we did not find such reduction in thought probe reports of attentional focus and meta-awareness. The collective results highlight the importance of studying the association of behavioral, self-reported thought probes and dispositional mindfulness while investigating the effects of mindfulness training on cognitive and metacognitive functions.
KeywordsMindfulness Mind wandering Attention Cognitive control MBSR SART
We would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their careful and useful comments, remarks, and suggestions leading to a much-improved article.
AG, LS, and AR designed the study, performed the analyses, and wrote the paper. LS programmed the computer task and collected the data. AG and BP administered the MBSR program. KF collaborated in writing the draft and helped in study design. MOB, SDH, and AR supervised the study and the writing of the manuscript.
Alessandro Giannandrea and Luca Simione contributed equally to this work.
AG, LS, and AR have been supported by a grant from the BIAL Foundation (Portugal) on the project “Aware Mind-Brain: bridging insights on the mechanisms and neural substrates of human awareness and meditation.”
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The study was approved by the Research Ethics Committee at Sapienza University of Rome and was carried out in line with the ethics guidelines of the National Board of Italian Psychologists and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed Consent Statement
Informed consent was obtained from all participants before participation.
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