Popular Conceptions of Mindfulness: Awareness and Emotional Control
Mindfulness has become a fixture of both clinical treatment and popular culture. Much research and theoretical scholarship have operationalized “mindfulness” as clinicians use the term, yet no research has examined popular (i.e., lay) conceptions of mindfulness. Mindfulness trainings and interventions are now widely offered on college campuses. Thus, as a starting point for assessing lay conceptions of the construct, we examined how undergraduate college students at an urban university (N = 361) conceptualize mindfulness. In open-ended responses, participants linked mindfulness to awareness of external objects, internal sensations, or being in the present moment. When rating sentences on how well they represented mindfulness, participants strongly associated mindfulness with controlling emotions. In both the open-ended and sentence stem responses, mindfulness was rarely associated with psychological acceptance, which is notable because of the importance of acceptance in mindfulness-based clinical treatments. Implications and future directions are discussed.
KeywordsMindfulness Laypersons College students Conceptions of mindfulness
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The university’s institutional review board approved the study.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- Baer, R.A., Smith, G.T., Lykins, E., Button, D., Krietemeyer, J., Sauer, S., … & Williams, J.M. G. (2008). Construct validity of the five facet mindfulness questionnaire in meditating and nonmeditating samples. Assessment, 15(3), 329–342.Google Scholar
- Bishop, S.R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N.D., Carmody, J., … & Devins, G. (2004). Mindfulness: A proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11(3), 230–241.Google Scholar
- Bond, F.W., Hayes, S.C., Baer, R.A., Carpenter, K.M., Guenole, N., Orcutt, H.K., … & Zettle, R.D. (2011). Preliminary psychometric properties of the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire–II: A revised measure of psychological inflexibility and experiential avoidance. Behavior Therapy, 42(4), 676–688.Google Scholar
- Caldwell, K., Harrison, M., Adams, M., Quin, R. H., & Greeson, J. (2010). Developing mindfulness in college students through movement-based courses: effects on self-regulatory self-efficacy, mood, stress, and sleep quality. Journal of American College Health, 58(5), 433–442.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. New York: Harper-Perennial.Google Scholar
- Davis, J. H. (2014). Facing Up to the Question of Ethics in Mindfulness-Based Interventions. Mindfulness, 6(1), 1–3.Google Scholar
- Davis, J. H., & Thompson, E. (2013). Towards a Cross-Cultural Cognitive Science. A companion to Buddhist philosophy, 585–597.Google Scholar
- Desbordes, G., Gard, T., Hoge, E.A., Hölzel, B.K., Kerr, C., Lazar, S.W., … & Vago, D.R. (2014). Moving beyond mindfulness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative research. Mindfulness, 6(2) 1–17.Google Scholar
- Hastie, T., Tibshirani, R., & Friedman, J. (2009). The Elements of Statistical Learning (pp. 485–585). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Herbert, J. D., & Brandsma, L. L. (2015). Understanding and enhancing psychological acceptance. In S. J. Lynn, W. O’Donohue, & S. Lilienfeld (Eds.), Health, happiness, and well-being: Better living through psychological science (pp. 62–88). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
- Hindman, R. K., Glass, C. R., Arnkoff, D. B., & Maron, D. D. (2014). A Comparison of Formal and Informal Mindfulness Programs for Stress Reduction in University Students. Mindfulness, 6(4), 1–12.Google Scholar
- Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living: The program of the stress reduction clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. New York: Delta.Google Scholar
- Marradi, A. (1981). Factor analysis as an aid in the formation and refinement of empirically useful concepts. In E. F. Borgotta & D. J. Jackson (Eds.), Factor Analysis and Measurement in Sociological Research (pp. 62–88). London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Wecker, M. (2015). The Rise of Meditation on College Campuses. Washington Times. Retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/7/the-rise-of-meditation-on-college-campuses/?page=all