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Examining the efficacy of a process versus outcome-based approach to measuring mindfulness

12 December 2014


The field of psychology lacks a consensus on an operational definition of mindfulness. Most existing mindfulness measures, including the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ, Baer et al., 2006) operationally define mindfulness as a trait and assess it through effects or outcomes of mindfulness practice, typically as the proportion of time participants are mindful of the present moment. Erisman & Roemer (2012) identified the paradoxical effect of mindfulness, whereby participants may score lower on outcome-based measures of mindfulness as they become aware of how often they are not mindful. These authors developed the Mindfulness Process Questionnaire (MPQ, Erisman & Roemer, 2012), a new process-based measure, to assess the intention to be mindful, which may be a more effective way of assessing mindfulness over time. In the present study, I administered the FFMQ and MPQ to participants at four time points during and after a mindfulness protocol. Analysis revealed that both the MPQ and FFMQ showed similar results over time over the first three time points. However, the MPQ showed significant changes in mindfulness over time when incorporating the data from the smaller sample of participants who completed measures at all four time points. I hypothesized that the MPQ would show larger increases in mindfulness scores over time given the focus on process rather than outcome. This hypothesis was not supported. Instead, results support the conclusion that although these measures operationally define mindfulness differently, the MPQ and FFMQ operate similarly in practice.


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