The role of personality and attentional control in a brief mindfulness intervention for subclinical anxiety
Shaffer, Melissa Emily
Lawless, Courtney Seaman
Lawless, Morgan Seaman
May 13, 2015
Past research has shown that mindfulness as a long-term treatment can reduce clinical anxiety, but less is known about the efficacy of short-term mindfulness interventions for subclinical anxiety. The current study investigated the efficacy of a brief mindfulness intervention in an unselected college sample. We hypothesized that our mindfulness intervention would reduce anxiety, and that this effect would be mediated by improvement in attentional control. In addition, we hypothesized that personality would impact the efficacy of mindfulness training. Specifically, we expected that neuroticism would moderate the effect of mindfulness training on changes in anxiety, whereas conscientiousness would reduce anxiety by increasing improvements in mindfulness. Thirty-six college students completed a week of at-home mindfulness training. Before and after training, participants completed a laboratory session involving assessment of state anxiety, anxious reactivity to an auditory stressor, mindfulness, and attentional control. The short-term mindfulness training appeared efficacious, as participants showed increases in mindfulness and reductions in anxious reactivity from pre- to post-training. Further, there was a dose-response relationship between improvements in mindfulness and reductions in anxiety that was partially mediated by improvements in attentional control. No significant effects of personality on the effectiveness of training were found. Results imply that short-term mindfulness treatment may be beneficial for everyday anxiety in college students. Findings are also discussed in terms of possible implications for prophylactic mindfulness treatments on college campuses.
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