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Abstract or Description

Previous research suggests that mindfulness buffers stress reactivity and improves some health outcomes in stress-related diseases. However, little is known about the mechanisms facilitating this effect, such as the purported roles of monitoring and acceptance in mindfulness training. This study manipulates the components of monitoring and acceptance in a brief mindfulness meditation training randomized controlled trial, and evaluates whether they have dissociable effects on fostering attentional control, emotion regulation, and reducing stress reactivity. Participants (N=102) completed three days of training (the monitoring only condition, the monitoring and acceptance condition, the relaxation condition, and the reading control condition), followed by a Sustained Attention Response Task (SART) and an emotional Stroop task, which measured sustained attention and emotion regulation. Participants then completed their fourth training session followed by the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), during which their systolic blood pressure was measured at two-minute intervals. Although no significant differences in blood pressure reactivity were observed, marginally significant differences were observed in sustained attention target discrimination rate, specifically with the highest rate in the relaxation training condition, followed by the monitoring and acceptance condition and the monitoring only condition. Results of reaction time of correct response to threatening stimuli revealed a trend of the fastest reaction times in the monitoring only condition, followed by the control conditions, with the slowest reaction times in the monitoring and acceptance condition. These findings suggest that both relaxation training and mindfulness training improve attentional control and alter emotion regulation, however, they fail to support any relative advantage of mindfulness training over relaxation training. We discuss the implications of these findings for the role of attention in mindfulness training and health.


Advisor: David Creswell

Department of Psychology