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Effects of an Ultra-brief Computer-based Mindfulness Training on Mindfulness and Self-control: a Randomised Controlled Trial Using a 40-Day Ecological Momentary Assessment

  • Zarah RowlandEmail author
  • Mario Wenzel
  • Thomas Kubiak



This study examined whether an ultra-brief mindfulness (UBM) training can change state mindfulness and perceived state self-control in daily life (primary outcomes), ultimately improving habitual mindfulness and perceived self-control (secondary outcomes). To gain a better understanding of the beneficial effects of practising mindfulness, the study additionally examined how mindfulness and self-control were related to each other during the training.


The randomised controlled trial combined a 40-day ecological momentary assessment with seven weekly surveys. Undergraduate students (Nenrolled = 137, 104 females, Mage = 23.08, SD = 5.04 years), were either assigned to the UBM training (n = 68) or wait-list control condition (n = 69). Primary outcomes were assessed six times a day using ecological momentary assessments (7-point scales). Secondary outcomes were measured weekly (6-point scales). A breath counting task at pre- and post-training was an additional behavioural measure of mindfulness.


An intention-to-treat multivariate mixed model identified day-to-day training effects (group × days-interaction) on state mindfulness (b = .005, p = .001) and perceived state self-control (b = .007, p < .001). A mediation analysis revealed that state mindfulness mediated the training effect on perceived state self-control (b = .001, p < .001). Habitual mindfulness (b = .049, p < .001) and breath counting task performance (b = 2.446, p = .043) also improved with training whereas habitual perceived self-control did not.


These findings suggest that state mindfulness and perceived state self-control may be interconnected in daily life and may be similarly improved through an UBM training.

Trial Registration



Ultra-brief mindfulness training Ecological momentary assessment Mindfulness Perceived self-control Randomised controlled trial 



We are thankful to our research assistants Maike Vogel, Julius Welzel, Markus Müssig, and Kimberly Holtz who assisted us in the organisation and the data collection of the study.

Author Contributions

ZR: conducted and organised the study, analysed the data, and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. MW: designed and organised the study, assisted with the data analyses, contributed to the writing and editing of the manuscript. TK: assisted with the data analyses and contributed to the writing and editing of the final manuscript. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Funding Information

This work has been financially supported by a scholarship (Promotionsstipendium der Stipendienstiftung Rheinland-Pfalz).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This trial was approved by the local ethics committee at the Institute of Psychology at the Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Germany (2015-JGU-psychEK-011).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12671_2019_1204_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5.5 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 5611 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Psychology, Institute of PsychologyJohannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany

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