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Lachaud, L.;  Jacquet, B.;  Baratgin, J. Mindfulness Meditation. Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/36117 (accessed on 19 April 2024).
Lachaud L,  Jacquet B,  Baratgin J. Mindfulness Meditation. Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/36117. Accessed April 19, 2024.
Lachaud, Léa, Baptiste Jacquet, Jean Baratgin. "Mindfulness Meditation" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/36117 (accessed April 19, 2024).
Lachaud, L.,  Jacquet, B., & Baratgin, J. (2022, November 23). Mindfulness Meditation. In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/entry/36117
Lachaud, Léa, et al. "Mindfulness Meditation." Encyclopedia. Web. 23 November, 2022.
Mindfulness Meditation
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Mindfulness consists of both a natural psychological predisposition as well as a personality trait that is developed and maintained through the practice of mindfulness meditation.

mindfulness experienced meditators meditation effects

1. Introduction

Cognitive biases are responsible for many of the behaviors that deviate from what would be considered rational in a given situation. Research has shown evidence supporting the idea that mindfulness meditation could reduce the effect of some well-known cognitive biases ([1][2][3][4]; for examples).
Given that studies suggest that regular mindfulness practice improves introspective access [5][6] and the ability to focus attention on the details of the environment [7][8]; it may reduce biases initially caused by the lack of sufficient introspection and poor attention to the environment.
The choice-blindness (CB) effect, first observed by Johansson and collaborators [9], is one such bias. According to Petitmengin and collaborators [10], the CB effect is caused by blindness to the decision processes (non-conscious reasons for our choices) and not by blindness to the decision criteria (conscious explanation of our choices). Indeed, their study showed that the detection rate of manipulations in a CB context was improved following an elicitation interview conducted just after the presentation of the non-chosen object (photograph). Manipulated trials followed by an elicitation interview were detected in 80% of the cases, whereas classic manipulated trials (not followed by the interview) were only detected in 33% of the cases. The explanatory interview method [11][12] aims to provoke in the subject, via specific questions, an awareness of subjective experience that is usually not directly accessible to consciousness (“pre-reflective” awareness) [10]. However, this method has an important point in common with the activity of mindfulness meditation: that of performing introspective acts of recalling and directing attention in order to increase awareness of the process of choice [10]. Furthermore, the authors [10] note that the sole act of evoking subjective experience through an explanatory interview does not improve the detection of manipulations that have not been followed by this interview. The authors then suggest that these introspective abilities are skills that need to be learned, which seems to be achievable through the regular practice of mindfulness [5][6].

The Practice of Mindfulness Meditation and Its Cognitive Effects

Mindfulness consists of both a natural psychological predisposition as well as a personality trait that is developed and maintained through the practice of mindfulness meditation [13]. The practice of mindfulness consists of focusing one’s attention and awareness on the present moment by adopting a non-judgmental attitude [14][15]. This practice is mainly characterized by two attitudes: (i) the self-regulation of attention to maintain a context of immediacy for a given situation, thereby allowing for the increased recognition of mental events in the present moment and (ii) adopting a particular mental orientation characterized by curiosity and acceptance of one’s experiences in the present moment, while remaining open to alternate interpretations with a goal of objectivity [16].
Tang and collaborators present a model of mindfulness meditation including at least three components: “enhanced attention control, improved emotion regulation, and altered self-awareness (diminished self-referential processing and enhanced body awareness)”. The interaction between these three factors enhances self-regulation [17] (p. 2).
Others describe mindfulness as a specific form of mental training to develop self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-transcendence [18] and as a mental training associated with activating emotional flexibility, cognitive flexibility, and attention processes [19]. Regular use of these aptitudes by experienced meditators allows the “mindfulness” personality trait to develop and allows modulating networks of self-processing to reduce cognitive bias.

2. The “Mindful” Personality Trait: A Possible Consequence of Mindfulness Practice

Studies have shown that people who regularly meditate often develop trait, or dispositional, mindfulness [20]. The mindfulness trait yields the ability to dedicate attention to the current moment, enabling greater situational awareness as well as an improved ability to take a step back and observe one’s own thoughts [21]. This ability remains stable over time [13] and can be maintained or improved by the practice of a meditative activity [22]. People who have acquired the mindfulness trait thanks to the consistent practice of mindfulness meditation are more likely to possess a habit of observing their thoughts and behaviors with greater openness and objectivity compared to the general population who is naive to meditation [3]. For example, experienced meditators are able to detect light flashes of shorter duration than the non-meditators [23]. These results are interpreted as the consequence of “an enduring increase in sensitivity, perhaps the long-term effect of the practice of mindfulness meditation on certain perceptual habit patterns” [23] (p. 727).
Trait mindfulness can also decrease the influence of some cognitive biases related to decision-making [1][2][3][4][24] by placing meditators in an analytical position to observe their environment and their own bodily and mental events [3]. It can also improve working memory capacity by decreasing mind-wandering [25], keeping one’s attention focused on the present moment [1], improving one’s ability to explore one’s own values and priorities [3] and by improving the ability to regulate emotional states recognized to be influencing decision-making [26][27][28]. Carlson also listed several pieces of empirical evidence supporting the hypothesis that mindfulness would improve self-knowledge of emotions, thoughts, behavior and the accuracy of beliefs regarding metaperception [29].
Trait mindfulness is often measured with a scale called the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI). The version FMI-14 items is validated for use outside of a Buddhist context and can be completed by people without any knowledge of meditation [30][31]. Studies have demonstrated that mindfulness practice increases an individual’s FMI score [30][32] and that FMI scores are, on average, higher for experienced meditators compared to the FMI scores of non-meditators [33], indicating that the FMI scale is a good tool to validate the consistency of groups of experienced meditators compared to non-meditators [30]. Researchers ensured that, at the group level, FMI scores, and thus trait mindfulness, are higher for experienced meditators than would be expected for non-meditators.

3. The Choice-Blindness Paradigm

The CB paradigm involves giving participants false feedback on their choices, thus creating a mismatch between their intentions and the outcome of their choices [9][34][35][36][37][38]. CB occurs when participants fail to notice this discrepancy and produce a confabulatory answer when the experimenter asks for the reason why they chose something that they in fact never chose [39][40]. This effect can occur during simple visual choices (e.g., a choice between two pictures) but also during more complex choices, such as the choice between two objects only discriminated by touch [41], or the recognition of a verbal declaration (see [42], in which participants believed they had said something they, in fact, never said).
Two interpretations of the CB phenomenon are of interest here. CB could be the result of insufficient introspection [39][43][44] and of the under-estimation of the influence of environmental and situational factors (environmental factors include the participant’s physical surroundings. Situational factors would instead consist of the general context of the situation they are currently in, such as the fact that they are participating in an online experiment) [34][35][36][45][46]. Yet, an attitude of openness allows meditators to obtain better introspective access [5][6] as well as an improved capacity to focus on environmental details [7][8].
Moreover, positive emotions increase the perception of false feedback in a visual task of CB [47], and the practice of meditation increases well-being and positive emotions [13][48][49]. Therefore, researchers suggest that mindfulness meditators should be better able to notice the mismatch and thus more easily avoid CB compared to non-meditators.

References

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