, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 829–837 | Cite as

Why Being Mindful May Have More Benefits Than You Realize: Mindfulness Improves Both Explicit and Implicit Mood Regulation

  • Carina RemmersEmail author
  • Sascha Topolinski
  • Sander L. Koole


Prior research has consistently observed that mindfulness facilitates emotion regulation. However, this research mainly examined explicit, self-reported emotion. Does mindfulness also facilitate regulation of implicit emotional responses? To address this question, the authors induced sadness among a group of healthy volunteers (N = 72), after which participants performed a mindfulness, distraction, or rumination exercise. Implicit mood changes were assessed with the Implicit Positive and Negative Affect Test and explicit mood changes were assessed with the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. Participants’ implicit and explicit negative mood improved in the mindfulness and distraction groups, but not in the rumination group. The mindfulness group displayed greater congruence between implicit and explicit mood than the other groups. Trait mindfulness was associated with lower implicit—but not explicit—negative mood across the whole sample both before and after the strategy induction but did not moderate the effects of the strategy induction on mood improvement. These findings indicate that mindfulness can facilitate emotion regulation on both implicit and explicit levels.


Mindfulness Emotion regulation Implicit mood Rumination 



This work was supported by a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC-2011-StG_20101124).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

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

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.


  1. Arch, J. J., & Craske, M. G. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness: emotion regulation following a focused breathing induction. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44(12), 1849–1858.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Arch, J. J., & Craske, M. G. (2010). Laboratory stressors in clinically anxious and non-anxious individuals: the moderating role of mindfulness. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48(6), 495–505.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., & Allen, K. B. (2004). Assessment of mindfulness by self-report. Assessment, 11, 191–206.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumann, N., Kaschel, R., & Kuhl, J. (2007). Affect sensitivity and affect regulation in dealing with positive and negative affect. Journal of Research in Personality, 41, 239-248. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2006.05.002Google Scholar
  5. Beevers, C. G. (2005). Cognitive vulnerability to depression: a dual process model. Clinical Psychology Review, 25, 975–1002. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2005.03.003.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Broderick, P. C. (2005). Mindfulness and coping with dysphoric mood: Contrasts with rumination and distraction. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 29, 501–510.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bullis, J. R., Bøe, H., Asnaani, A., & Hofmann, S. G. (2014). The benefits of being mindful: trait mindfulness predicts less stress reactivity to suppression. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 45, 57–66. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2013.07.006.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Chiesa, A., Serretti, A., & Jakobsen, J. C. (2013). Mindfulness: top-down or bottom-up emotion regulation strategy? Clinical Psychology Review, 33, 82–96.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Coffey, K. A., Hartman, M., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2010). Deconstructing mindfulness and constructing mental health: understanding mindfulness and its mechanisms of action. Mindfulness, 1, 234–253. doi: 10.1007/s12671-010-0033-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  12. Cousin, G., & Crane C. (2015) Changes in disengagement coping mediate changes in affect following mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in a non-clinical sample, British Journal of Psychology, doi:10.1111/bjop.12153Google Scholar
  13. Crescentini, C., & Capurso, V. (2015). Mindfulness meditation and explicit and implicit indicators of personality and self-concept changes. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 44. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00044.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. Desrosiers, A., Klemanski, D. H., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2013). Mapping mindfulness facets onto dimensions of anxiety and depression. Behavior Therapy, 44(3), 373–384. doi: 10.1016/j.beth.2013.02.001. Advance online publication.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Faul, F., Erdfelder, E., Lang, A.-G., & Buchner, A. (2007). G*Power 3: A flexible statistical power analysis program for the social, behavioral, and biomedical sciences. Behavior Research Methods, 39, 175–191.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Greenberg, J., & Meiran, N. (2013). Is mindfulness meditation associated with “Feelings Less?”. Mindfulness, 5, 471–476. doi: 10.1007/s12671-013-0201-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hajcak, G. (2012). What we’ve learned from our mistakes: Insights from error-related brain activity. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(2), 101–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Happe, C. (2009). Auswirkungen von Achtsamkeit und zwei ihrer Komponenten auf dysphorosch Stimmung. Unpublished diploma thesis. Universität Bochum.Google Scholar
  19. Hayes, S. C., Wilson, K. W., Gifford, E. V., Follette, V. M., & Strosahl, K. (1996). Experiential avoidance and behavioral disorders: a functional dimensional approach to diagnosis and treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64(6), 1152–1168.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hill, C. L. M., & Updegraff, J. A. (2012). Mindfulness and its relationship to emotional regulation. Emotion, 12(1), 81–90.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Hoelzel, B. K., Lazar, S. W., Gard, T., Schuman-Olivier, Z., Vago, D. R., & Ott, U. (2011). How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 537–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Huffziger, S., & Kuehner, C. (2009). Rumination, distraction and mindful self-focus in depressed patients. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 47, 224–230.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Job, V., & Brandstaetter, V. (2009). To get a taste of your goals: Promoting motive-goal congruence through affect-focus goal fantasy. Journal of Personality, 77, 1527–1560.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Jordan, C. H., Whitfield, M., & Zeigler-Hill, V. (2007). Intuition and the correspondence between implicit and explicit self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 1067–1079. doi: 10.1037/0022-3514.93.6.1067.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Keng, S. L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 1041–1056.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Koole, S. L., Dijksterhuis, A., & van Knippenberg, A. (2001). What's in a name: Implicit self-esteem and the automatic self. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 80, 669–685.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Koole, S. L., Govorun, O., Cheng, C., & Gallucci, M. (2009). Pulling yourself together: meditation enhances the congruence between implicit and explicit self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, 1220–1226.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Koole, S. L., Webb, T. L., & Sheeran, P. (2015). Implicit emotion regulation: feeling better without knowing why. Current Opinion in Psychology, 3, 6–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Krohne, H. W., Egloff, B., Kohlmann, C. W., & Tausch, A. (1996). Untersuchungen mit einer deutschen Version der „Positive and Negative Affect Schedule“(PANAS). Diagnostica, 42, 139–156.Google Scholar
  30. Mauss, I. B., Bunge, S. A., & Gross, J. J. (2007). Automatic emotion regulation. Social and Personality Compass, 1, 146–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness and Cognition, 18(1), 176–186.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Morrow, J., & Nolen-Hoekema, S. (1990). Effects of responses to depression on the remediation of depressive affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 519–527.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Neumann, R., & Strack, F. (2000). “Mood contagion”: the automatic transfer of mood between persons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(2), 211.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Nolen-Hoeksema, S., Wisco, B. E., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2008). Rethinking rumination. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3(5), 400–424.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Ortner, C. N. M., Kilner, S. J., & Zelazo, P. D. (2007). Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task. Motivation and Emotion, 31(4), 271–283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Quirin, M., Kazén, M., & Kuhl, J. (2009). When nonsense sounds happy or sad: the implicit positive and negative affect test (IPANAT). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 500–517.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Remmers, C., Topolinski, S., & Michalak, J. (2015). Mindful(l) intuition: does mindfulness influence the access to intuitive processes? Journal of Positive Psychology, 10, 282–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Roemer, L., Williston, S. K., & Rollins, L. G. (2015). Mindfulness and emotion regulation. Current Opinion in Psychology, 3, 52–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sauer, S. E., & Baer, R. (2012). Ruminative and mindful self-focused attention in borderline personality disorder. Personality Disorders: Theory, Research and Treatment, 3, 433–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sauer, S., Walach, H., Schmidt, S., Hinterberger, T., Horan, M., & Kohls, N. (2011). Implicit and explicit emotional behavior and mindfulness. Consciousness and. Cognition, 20, 1558–1569. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2011.08.00.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Schultheiss, O. C., & Brunstein, J. C. (1999). Goal imagery: bridging the gap between implicit motives and explicit goals. Journal of personality, 67(1), 1–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2002). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression: A new approach to preventing relapse. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  43. Sheppes, G., & Levin, Z. (2013). Emotion regulation choice: selecting between cognitive regulation strategies to control emotion. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 179.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  44. Singer, A. R., & Dobson, K. S. (2007). An experimental investigation of the cognitive vulnerability to depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45, 563–575.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Ströhle, G., Nachtigall, C., Michalak, J., & Heidenreich, T. (2010). Die Erfassung von Achtsamkeit als mehrdimensionales Konstrukt: Die deutsche Version des Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS-D) [Measuring mindfulness as a multidimensional construct: a German version of the Kentucky inventory of mindfulness skills (KIMS-D)]. Zeitschrift für Klinische Psychologie und Psychotherapie, 39, 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Teasdale, J. D. (1988). Cognitive vulnerability to persistent depression. Cognition and Emotion, 2, 247–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Teasdale, J. D., & Russell, M. L. (1983). Differential effects of induced mood on the recall of positive, negative and neutral words. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 22, 163–171.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Teper, R., & Inzlicht, M. (2013). Meditation, mindfulness, and executive control: the importance of emotional acceptance and brain-based performance monitoring. Social Cognitive Affective Neuroscience, 8, 85–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Teper, R., Segal, Z., & Inzlicht, M. (2013). Inside the mindful mind: how mindfulness enhances emotion regulation through improvements in executive control. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22, 449–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tugade, M. M., & Fredrickson, B.L. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 86(2), 320–333.Google Scholar
  51. Van Dillen, L. F., & Koole, S. L. (2007). Clearing the mind: a working memory model of distraction from negative emotion. Emotion, 7, 715–723.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carina Remmers
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sascha Topolinski
    • 3
  • Sander L. Koole
    • 4
  1. 1.Clinical PsychologyUniversity of HildesheimHildesheimGermany
  2. 2.Vivantes Wenckebach ClinicClinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and PsychosomaticsBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Social Cognition Center CologneUniversity of CologneKölnGermany
  4. 4.Clinical PsychologyVU University AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands

Personalised recommendations