Self-insight or clarity of understanding of one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is suggested to play a key role in psychological treatments of depression. Mindfulness is considered as a promising factor to enhance self-insight since it is a prerequisite to gaining clearer self-understanding. Regardless of the theoretical/hypothetical links between self-insight, mindfulness, and depressive symptoms, their temporal or causal associations have not been examined thoroughly. Furthermore, as mindfulness is a five-factor construct, it is important to clarify which factor(s) of mindfulness is/are especially associated with increased self-insight. In the present study, we conducted a three-wave longitudinal survey on Japanese undergraduate students (n = 148, men = 106, women = 42, mean age = 19.24 years, SD = 1.67 years) to examine the prospective effect of mindfulness on self-insight and that of self-insight on depressive symptoms. The results of structural equation modeling revealed a significant indirect effect of mindfulness, leading to decreased depressive symptoms via increased self-insight. A follow-up multiple regression analysis identified two of the five factors of mindfulness (i.e., describe and act with awareness) as significant predictors of future increase in self-insight. The findings of the present study indicated that self-insight could be improved through mindfulness, leading to a reduction in depressive symptoms.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Akın, A., Demirci, İ., & Yıldız, E. (2015). Personal self-concept as mediator and moderator of the relationship between insight and psychological vulnerability. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 7(1), 79–86. https://doi.org/10.15345/iojes.2015.01.007.
Armeli, S., Gunthert, K. C., & Cohen, L. H. (2001). Stressor appraisals, coping, and post-event outcomes: the dimensionality and antecedents of stress-related growth. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 20(3), 366–395. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.20.3.366.22304.
Barnhofer, T., Duggan, D. S., & Griffith, J. W. (2011). Dispositional mindfulness moderates the relation between neuroticism and depressive symptoms. Personality and Individual Differences, 51(8), 958–962. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2011.07.032.
Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13(1), 27–45. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191105283504.
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. https://doi.org/10.1177/1073191107313003.
Beardslee, W. R. (1989). The role of self-understanding in resilient individuals: the development of a perspective. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 59(2), 266–278. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-0025.1989.tb01659.x.
Bränström, R., Duncan, L. G., & Moskowitz, J. T. (2011). The association between dispositional mindfulness, psychological well-being, and perceived health in a Swedish population based sample. British Journal of Health Psychology, 16(2), 300–316. https://doi.org/10.1348/135910710X501683.
Cash, M., & Whittingham, K. (2010). What facets of mindfulness contribute to psychological well-being and depressive, anxious, and stress-related symptomatology? Mindfulness, 1(3), 177–182. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-010-0023-4.
Carlson, E. N. (2013). Overcoming the barriers to self-knowledge: mindfulness as a path to seeing yourself as you really are. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(2), 173–186. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691612462584.
Chung, S. H., Su, Y. F., & Su, S. W. (2012). The impact of cognitive flexibility on resistance to organizational change. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 40(5), 735–745. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2012.40.5.735.
Ciesla, J. A., Reilly, L. C., Dickson, K. S., Emanuel, A. S., & Updegraff, J. A. (2012). Dispositional mindfulness moderates the effects of stress among adolescents: rumination as a mediator. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 41(6), 760–770. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2012.698724.
Curtiss, J., Klemanski, D. H., Andrews, L., Ito, M., & Hofmann, S. G. (2017). The conditional process model of mindfulness and emotion regulation: an empirical test. Journal of Affective Disorders, 212, 93–100. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2017.01.027.
De Lissnyder, E., Koster, E. H., Goubert, L., Onraedt, T., Vanderhasselt, M. A., & De Raedt, R. (2012). Cognitive control moderates the association between stress and rumination. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 43(1), 519–525. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbtep.2011.07.004.
Desrosiers, A., Klemanski, D. H., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2013). Mapping mindfulness facets onto dimensions of anxiety and depression. Behavior Therapy, 44(3), 373–384. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2013.02.001.
Desrosiers, A., Vine, V., Curtiss, J., & Klemanski, D. H. (2014). Observing nonreactively: a conditional process model linking mindfulness facets, cognitive emotion regulation strategies, and depression and anxiety symptoms. Journal of Affective Disorders, 165, 31–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.04.024.
Dundas, I., Vøllestad, J., Binder, P. E., & Sivertsen, B. (2013). The five factor mindfulness questionnaire in Norway. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 54(3), 250–260. https://doi.org/10.1111/sjop.12044.
Frewen, P. A., Evans, E. M., Maraj, N., Dozois, D. J., & Partridge, K. (2008). Letting go: mindfulness and negative automatic thinking. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32(6), 758–774. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-007-9142-1.
Grant, A. M., Franklin, J., & Langford, P. (2002). The self-reflection and insight scale: a new measure of private self-consciousness. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 30(8), 821–835. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2002.30.8.821.
Grant, A. M. (2003). The impact of life coaching on goal attainment, metacognition and mental health. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 31(3), 253–263. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2003.31.3.253.
Grant, A. M. (2013). The efficacy of coaching. In J. Passmore, D. B. Peterson, & T. Freire (Eds.), Wiley-Blackwell handbooks in organizational psychology. The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of the psychology of coaching and mentoring (pp. 15–39). : Wiley-Blackwell.
Haga, S. M., Kraft, P., & Corby, E. K. (2009). Emotion regulation: antecedents and well-being outcomes of cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression in cross-cultural samples. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(3), 271–291. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-007-9080-3.
Harrington, R., & Loffredo, D. A. (2010). Insight, rumination, and self-reflection as predictors of well-being. The Journal of Psychology, 145(1), 39–57. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2010.528072.
Harrington, R., Loffredo, D. A., & Perz, C. A. (2014). Dispositional mindfulness as a positive predictor of psychological well-being and the role of the private self-consciousness insight factor. Personality and Individual Differences, 71, 15–18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.06.050.
Hirano, M., & Yukawa, S. (2013). The impact of mindfulness meditation on anger. Japanese journal of psychology, 84(2), 93–102. https://doi.org/10.4992/jjpsy.84.93 (in Japanese).
Hollon, S. D., Thase, M. E., & Markowitz, J. C. (2002). Treatment and prevention of depression. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 3(2), 39–77. https://doi.org/10.1111/1529-1006.00008.
Jimenez, S. S., Niles, B. L., & Park, C. L. (2010). A mindfulness model of affect regulation and depressive symptoms: positive emotions, mood regulation expectancies, and self-acceptance as regulatory mechanisms. Personality and Individual Differences, 49(6), 645–650. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2010.05.041.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156. https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy.bpg016.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2009).Wherever you go, there you are: mindfulness meditation in everyday life. Hachette Books.
Kállay, É. (2015). Physical and psychological benefits of written emotional expression. European Psychologist, 20, 242–251. https://doi.org/10.1027/1016-9040/a000231.
Krygsman, A., & Vaillancourt, T. (2017). Longitudinal associations between depression symptoms and peer experiences: evidence of symptoms-driven pathways. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 51, 20–34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appdev.2017.05.003.
Lyke, J. A. (2009). Insight, but not self-reflection, is related to subjective well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 46(1), 66–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2008.09.010.
Michl, L. C., McLaughlin, K. A., Shepherd, K., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2013). Rumination as a mechanism linking stressful life events to symptoms of depression and anxiety: longitudinal evidence in early adolescents and adults. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 122(2), 339–352. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0031994.
Nakajima, M., Takano, K., & Tanno, Y. (2017). Adaptive functions of self-focused attention: insight and depressive and anxiety symptoms. Psychiatry Research, 249, 275–280. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2017.01.026.
Ortner, C. N., Kilner, S. J., & Zelazo, P. D. (2007). Mindfulness meditation and reduced emotional interference on a cognitive task. Motivation and Emotion, 31(4), 271–283. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-007-9076-7.
Pennebaker, J. W., & Beall, S. K. (1986). Confronting a traumatic event: toward an understanding of inhibition and disease. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 95(3), 274. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-843X.95.3.274.
Piet, J., & Hougaard, E. (2011). The effect of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for prevention of relapse in recurrent major depressive disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(6), 1032–1040. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.05.002.
Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: a self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1(3), 385–401. https://doi.org/10.1177/014662167700100306.
Rasmussen, M. K., & Pidgeon, A. M. (2011). The direct and indirect benefits of dispositional mindfulness on self-esteem and social anxiety. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 24(2), 227–233. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2010.515681.
Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., & Teasdale, J. D. (2012). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. Guilford Press.
Silvia, P. J., & Phillips, A. G. (2011). Evaluating self-reflection and insight as self-conscious traits. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(2), 234–237. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2010.09.035.
Spence, G. B., Cavanagh, M. J., & Grant, A. M. (2008). The integration of mindfulness training and health coaching: an exploratory study. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 1(2), 145–163. https://doi.org/10.1080/17521880802328178.
Stein, D., & Grant, A. M. (2014). Disentangling the relationships among self-reflection, insight, and subjective well-being: the role of dysfunctional attitudes and core self-evaluations. The Journal of Psychology, 148(5), 505–522. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2013.810128.
Shima, S., Kano, T., Kitamura, T., & Asai, M. (1985). New self-rating scale for depression. Clinical Psychiatry, 27, 717–723. https://doi.org/10.11477/mf.1405203967 (in Japanese).
Sugiura, Y., Sato, A., Ito, Y., & Murakami, H. (2012). Development and validation of the Japanese version of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire. Mindfulness, 3(2), 85–94. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-011-0082-1.
Tang, Y. Y., & Leve, L. D. (2016). A translational neuroscience perspective on mindfulness meditation as a prevention strategy. Translational behavioral medicine, 6(1), 63–72. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13142-015-0360-x.
Teasdale, J. D., Moore, R. G., Hayhurst, H., Pope, M., Williams, S., & Segal, Z. V. (2002). Metacognitive awareness and prevention of relapse in depression: empirical evidence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70(2), 275–287. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.70.2.275.
Teasdale, J. D., Segal, Z. V., Williams, J. M. G., Ridgeway, V. A., Soulsby, J. M., & Lau, M. A. (2000). Prevention of relapse/recurrence in major depression by mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(4), 615–623. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.68.4.615.
This study was funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (DC1-15J03908, 17H02641).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This study obtained IRB approval from University of Tokyo, Japan.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
About this article
Cite this article
Nakajima, M., Takano, K. & Tanno, Y. Mindfulness Relates to Decreased Depressive Symptoms Via Enhancement of Self-Insight. Mindfulness 10, 894–902 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1049-2
- Depressive symptoms
- Longitudinal research