Differences between meditators and non-meditators in mindfulness, its components and related qualities

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Current Psychology: developmental - learning - personality - social, 2022
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Objectives: The study investigated (1) if meditators and non-meditators differ in their levels of mindfulness, attention, acceptance, loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, and empathy; and (2) whether and how mindfulness practice affected the above qualities. Methods: The 241 participants (18–81 years, M = 40.3, SD = 14.8; 64% female) completed an online questionnaire consisting of scales measuring mindfulness components (mindful attention, acceptance, non-judging), and mindfulness related qualities, including loving-kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, and empathy. The participants who reported being meditators (N = 122; 50.4%) were also asked questions about their meditation practice. Results: Meditators differed significantly from non-meditators in relation to their levels of mindful attention (t(239) = 4.80, p <.001, d =.63) and empathy (t(239) = 2.80, p <.01, d =.37) but not for the other mindfulness components or related qualities. Multiple regression analyses indicated that practice variables (years of practice, frequency of practice, and length of session) explained a significant proportion of variance in mindful attention (R2 =.27, p <.001) and empathy (R2 =.15, p <.05). Conclusions: The present findings are consistent with conceptualizations of mindfulness that focus on the centrality of mindful attention over acceptance and non-judging components, which is consistent with several Buddhist mindfulness traditions. Present findings also demonstrate the importance of practice for the cultivation of mindful attention. Future studies are required to increase our understanding of effects relating to the type of mindfulness undertaken and the influence of practice factors.
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