Date of Award

7-14-2018

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Carlin Miller

Keywords

coping, mindfulness, psychophysiology, self-reguation

Rights

CC-BY-NC-ND

Abstract

Dispositional mindfulness is the non-judgmental moment-to-moment awareness of transient thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise in the attentional field (Kabat-Zinn, 1990). This phenomenon has been a primary element of various clinical interventions for many years. However, little is known about the active ingredients of mindfulness that promote emotional self-regulation and coping. The aim of this dissertation was to address this gap through three related studies which utilized an undergraduate sample. The first study used a laboratory protocol that required participants to perform several mildly stressful tasks related to emotional recall, mindful breathing, and a recovery condition. The hypothesis that high self-ratings of mindfulness correspond to more adaptive sympathetic and parasympathetic self-regulation relative to these tasks was tested. The second study examined the associations among self-rated emotional regulation strategies, ruminative tendencies, and mindfulness skills to test the hypothesis that mindfulness is negatively related to rumination and emotional dysregulation. Finally, the third study tested the hypothesis that mindfulness skills are associated with more benign perceptions of environmental stress, as well as a more adaptive estimation of the resources available to cope with stress, such as perceived social support and academic self-efficacy. Results suggested that self-rated mindfulness was associated with adaptive emotional self-regulation across task conditions. Results of this triad of studies suggest that mindfulness is associated with a lower likelihood of maintaining a prolonged fight or flight response after the stressor has been removed, and that specific mindful skills may work synergistically to promote effective coping and resilience. Implications for the development of future mindfulness interventions are discussed.

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