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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2018 Dec;115(6):944-973. doi: 10.1037/pspa0000134.

How mindfulness training promotes positive emotions: Dismantling acceptance skills training in two randomized controlled trials.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh.
2
Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University.
3
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh.
4
Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont.
5
Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University.
6
Department of Biobehavioral Health, Pennsylvania State University.
7
Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Abstract

Mindfulness meditation interventions-which train skills in monitoring present-moment experiences with a lens of acceptance-have shown promise for increasing positive emotions. Using a theory-based approach, we hypothesized that learning acceptance skills in mindfulness interventions helps people notice more positive experiences in daily life, and tested whether removing acceptance training from mindfulness interventions would eliminate intervention-related boosts in positive affect. In 2 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of stressed community adults, mindfulness skills were dismantled into 2 structurally equivalent interventions: (a) training in both monitoring and acceptance (Monitor + Accept) and (b) training in monitoring only (Monitor Only) without acceptance training. Study 1 tested 8-week group-based Monitor + Accept and Monitor Only interventions compared with a no treatment control group. Study 2 tested 2-week smartphone-based Monitor + Accept and Monitor Only interventions compared with an active control training. In both studies, end-of-day and momentary positive affect and negative affect were measured in daily life for 3 days pre- and post-intervention using ambulatory assessments. As predicted, across 2 RCTs, Monitor + Accept training increased positive affect compared with both Monitor Only and control groups. In Study 1, this effect was observed in end-of-day positive affect. In Study 2, this effect was found in both end-of-day and momentary positive affect outcomes. In contrast, all active interventions in Studies 1 and 2 decreased negative affect. These studies provide the first experimental evidence that developing an orientation of acceptance toward present-moment experiences is a central mechanism of mindfulness interventions for boosting positive emotions in daily life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).

TRIAL REGISTRATION:

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02502227 NCT02433431.

PMID:
30550321
PMCID:
PMC6296247
[Available on 2019-12-01]
DOI:
10.1037/pspa0000134
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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