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Building Blocks of Emotional Flexibility: Trait Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Are Associated with Positive and Negative Mood Shifts

Abstract

Emotional flexibility can be defined as the ability to respond in a context-appropriate emotional manner and recover from one’s initial emotional responses when the context changes. Emotional flexibility has been associated with psychological health. Mindfulness and self-compassion have both been associated with various aspects of well-being and are considered buffers against psychopathology; however, few studies have examined the relationships of mindfulness and self-compassion with emotional flexibility. A total of 417 participants were recruited through an online crowdsourcing website and completed study questionnaires as well as negative and positive mood induction procedures. Results indicated that both mindfulness and self-compassion were significantly and positively associated with mood drops and mood increases in response to negative and positive mood induction procedures, respectively. We also found that depressive symptoms and depression-related negative cognitions were negatively correlated with emotional flexibility. Further, hierarchical regression analyses revealed that self-compassion may explain variance in emotional flexibility beyond what is accounted for by trait mindfulness. Findings of this study underscore the importance of mindfulness and, specifically, self-compassion as likely key factors in emotional flexibility. Further, it appears that self-compassion may explain some aspects of emotional flexibility beyond variance contributed for by trait mindfulness alone, suggesting that both these constructs may need to be cultivated directly in psychological interventions for optimal psychological health. Future work should replicate and extend our findings and examine directionality among the examined factors.

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Authors

Contributions

SB designed and executed the study, assisted with the data analyses, and wrote the introduction. JLP collaborated with the design and writing of the study. VH wrote the methods and the results. SB, JLP, and VH collaborated in the editing of the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Shadi Beshai.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of Regina’s Research Ethics Board and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Beshai, S., Prentice, J.L. & Huang, V. Building Blocks of Emotional Flexibility: Trait Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Are Associated with Positive and Negative Mood Shifts. Mindfulness 9, 939–948 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0833-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-017-0833-8

Keywords

  • Emotional flexibility
  • Mindfulness
  • Resilience
  • Self-compassion
  • Depression