Does mindfulness attenuate thoughts emphasizing negativity, but not positivity?

J Res Pers. 2014 Dec 1:53:22-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2014.08.002.


The current research investigated whether mindfulness is differentially associated with thoughts that emphasize positive or negative valence. In Study 1, trait mindfulness was inversely associated with negative rumination but unassociated with positive rumination, controlling for state affect. In Study 2, participants completed either a mindful breathing meditation or a comparable control exercise, followed by a thought listing while viewing affective images. Compared to the control condition, the mindfulness condition listed proportionately fewer negative thoughts, particularly in response to negative images, and more non-valenced thoughts. The conditions did not differ in their proportions of positive thoughts. These results suggest that mindfulness may attenuate thoughts that emphasize negativity but not those that emphasize positivity.

Keywords: bias; cognition; mindfulness; negative; positive; rumination; thought; valence.