Increased False-Memory Susceptibility After Mindfulness Meditation

Psychol Sci. 2015 Oct;26(10):1567-73. doi: 10.1177/0956797615593705. Epub 2015 Sep 4.

Abstract

The effect of mindfulness meditation on false-memory susceptibility was examined in three experiments. Because mindfulness meditation encourages judgment-free thoughts and feelings, we predicted that participants in the mindfulness condition would be especially likely to form false memories. In two experiments, participants were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness induction, in which they were instructed to focus attention on their breathing, or a mind-wandering induction, in which they were instructed to think about whatever came to mind. The overall number of words from the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm that were correctly recalled did not differ between conditions. However, participants in the mindfulness condition were significantly more likely to report critical nonstudied items than participants in the control condition. In a third experiment, which tested recognition and used a reality-monitoring paradigm, participants had reduced reality-monitoring accuracy after completing the mindfulness induction. These results demonstrate a potential unintended consequence of mindfulness meditation in which memories become less reliable.

Keywords: Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) paradigm; false memories; mindfulness; reality monitoring; signal detection theory; source monitoring.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment*
  • Male
  • Meditation / psychology*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Mindfulness*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology*
  • Signal Detection, Psychological
  • Young Adult