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What is being induced in mindfulness experiments?: a systematic analysis of the components, composition and emphasis of “mindfulness inductions”

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What is being induced in mindfulness experiments?A systematic analysis of the components, composition and emphasis of "mindfulness inductions”

Despite mounting evidence of the beneficial effects of mindfulness-based practices caution is required when attributing effects to mindfulness per se. Transparency in how mindfulness is operationalized is needed for the development of mindfulness research and to progress understanding of the mechanisms underlying positive effects. With the support of the authors of published experimental examinations of mindfulness this research deconstructs and describes over thirty mindful induction scripts.

Thirty-three lead authors of over fifty studies were identified and contacted based on a literature search using Boolean search terms ‘mindful’, ‘experiment’ and ‘induct’ (February 2014). The systematic analysis broadly follows a thematic analyses approach but differs in the focus on components and composition rather than themes.

Scripts varied on length, context provided, suggested applications, the object and quality of awareness. Common components included use of rhetorical devices, “nature” analogy and present moment focus. Findings presented in a matrix of components and emphasis includes brief descriptions of aspects of mindfulness invited,experimental effects and to what effects were attributed.

The study makes two important contributions to mindfulness research firstly by providing a methodology to operationalize aspects of mindfulness and study the mechanisms underlying the effects of mindfulness in experimental settings. Secondly the matrix enables greater understanding of previous research and identification of mechanisms of action for future research. The intention is to increase transparency in how mindfulness is described and applied.

Bibliographic note

Pre 1 April 2016 publication. Only non-compliant for Lancaster's OA Policy (from 1 May 2015)