, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 940–949 | Cite as

Popular Conceptions of Mindfulness: Awareness and Emotional Control

  • Peter F. Hitchcock
  • Lindsay M. Martin
  • Laura Fischer
  • Stephanie Marando-Blanck
  • James D. HerbertEmail author


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.


Mindfulness 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter F. Hitchcock
    • 1
  • Lindsay M. Martin
    • 1
  • Laura Fischer
    • 1
  • Stephanie Marando-Blanck
    • 1
  • James D. Herbert
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Drexel University Psychology DepartmentPhiladelphiaUSA

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