Mindfulness and Disgust in Colorectal Cancer Scenarios: Non-judging and Non-reacting Components Predict Avoidance When It Makes Sense
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Mindfulness facilitates greater tolerance of unpleasant emotion and may thus promote better decision making in health settings where emotional avoidance is common. Disgust’s elicitors are common in colorectal cancer (CRC) contexts and, because disgust evolved to minimise contamination risk through avoidance and withdrawal, decision making when disgusted is important. The current report investigated whether specific components of dispositional mindfulness predict elicited disgust and avoidance behaviours in scenarios based around CRC screening and treatment. After completing trait mindfulness measures, 80 healthy volunteers were block randomised (by gender) to disgust or control conditions before completing tasks assessing immediate avoidance of a disgust elicitor (stoma bag) and anticipated avoidance of a hypothetical CRC drug with disgusting side effects. Checks confirmed the manipulation of disgust (F(1,78) = 5.65, p < .05, η p 2 = .07). As expected, those with greater non-judging mindfulness were less disgusted than people with lower mindfulness (F(1,74) = 4.70, p < .05, η p 2 = .06). When disgusted however, mindfulness predicted greater anticipated avoidance: those high in the non-react facet were more likely to anticipate avoidance of the disgusting drug (Wald = 4.76, df = 1, p < .05) odds ratio .24 (95 % CI 0.06–0.86), and immediately avoided touching the stoma bag (F(1,74) = 6.34, p < .05). In total, these findings suggest persons with low mindfulness may fail to attend to emotional experience when making decisions while those higher in non-react and non-judge components may use their disgust to inform both current and future behaviour. Mindfulness training may promote more integrated decision-making skills in CRC contexts where disgust is a factor.
KeywordsDisgust Avoidance Mindfulness Decision making Colorectal cancer Emotion
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