Category: Treatment - Mindfulness
Mindfulness has been shown to lead to reductions in psychological distress and improved well-being, but there is limited research on the mechanism of change. Mindfulness may decrease how fused an individual is with their negative thoughts, in turn leading to better outcomes such as less anxiety and rumination. The primary aim of the present research was to test whether defusion is a mechanism of change, in this case leading to reduced post-event rumination following a speech task among individuals with elevated levels of social anxiety. Following baseline measures (e.g., fusion, mindfulness, affect, depression, and social anxiety), participants (n = 80 students, preliminary sample; full sample N = 120 expected by time of presentation) were asked to give an impromptu speech meant to elicit anxiety. A 3 (audio: mindfulness, relaxation, and active control) x 2 (writing: defusion and control) design was used resulting in six conditions. For the mindfulness audio, participants were guided to bring awareness to their body, breath, sounds and thoughts. For the relaxation audio, participants were instructed to physically relax each muscle group. Finally, for the active control audio, participants were guided to let their minds wander. For the defusion writing, participants completed a series of defusion exercises (such as externalizing their mind and thanking their mind) and for the control writing, participants wrote about the content of their previously given speech. One day later, participants were assessed on measures of state fusion and post-event rumination. We hypothesized that individuals in the mindfulness audio+defusion writing condition would have the lowest levels of fusion and post-event rumination compared to the other conditions. Preliminary results suggest that participants in the mindfulness audio+defusion writing condition had lower levels of fusion one day later than the relaxation audio+defusion writing condition but did not differ from the active control audio+defusion writing condition (F(2, 72) = 3.12, p = .050, partial h2 = .080). Further, although marginal, individuals in the mindfulness audio+defusion writing condition had lower levels of post-event rumination one day later than the relaxation audio+defusion writing condition but did not differ from the active control audio+defusion writing condition (F(2, 72) = 3.03, p = .055, partial h2 = .078). Overall, preliminary findings suggest that when combined with defusion writing exercises, mindfulness practice may lead to less fusion and post-event rumination than relaxation practice. Further analyses with the full sample will address the primary goal of testing whether mindfulness is leading to favorable outcomes (e.g., less post-event rumination) through decreased fusion.