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Mindful Metacognition: Attention, Beliefs, and Skills in the Acceptance of Experiences

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Mindfulness involves shifting attention to and focusing it on present experiences without judging or attempting to change them: experiential acceptance. In contrast, experiential avoidance and repetitive negative thinking (RNT) entail shifts in attention away from inner experiences (e.g., emotions) and attempts to reduce the intensity of such experiences. Across two studies, we proposed and tested mediatory models of how attentional control and metacognitive beliefs predict mindfulness skills and reduce experiential avoidance.


Study 1 tested data from 79 German-speaking adults (45 males; 34 females) in the general population from an open dataset, and Study 2 examined data collected from 192 undergraduates (40 males; 152 females) at a Midwestern US university. Participants self-reported attentional control, mindfulness facets (e.g., present-moment awareness and nonjudging) and experiential avoidance beliefs, tendencies, and RNT.


In Study 1, we found higher attentional control predicted higher present-moment awareness, facilitating higher nonjudging of present experiences. Via these mindfulness facets, higher attentional control indirectly predicted reduced cognitive avoidance beliefs (standardized indirect effect, SIE = −0.040; CI −0.09, −0.003). In Study 2, attentional control (shifting and focusing) predicted higher present-moment awareness and in turn higher nonjudging. The resulting higher nonjudging predicted reductions in experiential avoidance tendencies (SIE = −0.068; CI −0.12, −0.03) and beliefs (SIE = −0.094; CI −0.15, −0.05), and RNT (SIE = −0.089; CI −0.15, −0.04).


Consistent with theories of mindfulness and metacognition, results show the importance of attentional control and metacognitive beliefs in predicting mindfulness skills and in turn reducing experiential avoidance and RNT.


This study is not preregistered.

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All data and materials are available at the Open Science Framework (


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Authors and Affiliations



Z. I. W.: conceptualization; methodology; data curation; analyses; visualization (mediation models); writing—original draft preparation; writing—reviewing and editing (equal). L. L. J.: supervision; writing—reviewing and editing (equal); visualization (tables).

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Zachary I. Wunder.

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Ethics Approval

Both studies reported in this manuscript involve human participants and were approved by the Institutional Review Board of Wayne State University, Protocol ID: IRB-21-09-4007. The open dataset used for Study 1 consisted of participants collected from a German sample as described by Mendes et al. (2019), Scientific Data) with approval of their study protocol provided by the ethics committee at the medical faculty of the University of Leipzig (097/15-ff).

Informed Consent

In both studies, participants provided their informed consent prior to their participation. In Study 1, participants provided their written informed consent “including agreement to their data being shared anonymously” (Mendes et al., 2019). In Study 2, participants provided their informed consent at the beginning of the online questionnaire.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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AI was used only in manuscript revision for the purpose of condensing and consolidating information within the paper.

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Wunder, Z.I., Jones, L.L. Mindful Metacognition: Attention, Beliefs, and Skills in the Acceptance of Experiences. Mindfulness 14, 2917–2931 (2023).

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