Mindfulness, mind wandering, and university learning: A surprising virtue of loving kindness

Butler, Cynthia (2015). Mindfulness, mind wandering, and university learning: A surprising virtue of loving kindness Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Butler, Cynthia
Thesis Title Mindfulness, mind wandering, and university learning: A surprising virtue of loving kindness
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2015-10-07
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor John McLean
Total pages 70
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Formatted abstract
Research on Mindful Breathing Meditation (MBM) in the psychological literature has grown exponentially in the last decade. Its utility as an adjunct to psychological therapies is becoming widely popular. More specifically, however, research has investigated the effectiveness of short MBM interventions in reducing mind wandering during cognitive and working memory tasks. Researchers argue that mind wandering is a universally occurring human phenomenon, and that it is largely unproductive and detrimental. Although there has been recent research on MBM and its purported ability to reduce mind wandering, there are two main shortcomings identified in the literature. The first is that the research suffers for lack of appropriate active control conditions. Second, there is an apparent lack of exploration on the effectiveness of such interventions in a student-learning context. Research has demonstrated that higher rates of mind wandering in students during learning are often correlated with lower grades and poorer examination performance. In response to these gaps in the literature, the present project examined the effectiveness of a short MBM intervention compared to a loving kindness meditation (LKM) and music-listening relaxation in reducing mind wandering during a subsequent learning episode and consequently improving memory performance on the content of the learning episode. 76 undergraduate psychology students were assigned to one of the three 10-minute induction conditions. Their mood was measured pre and post induction, and their mind wandering rates were measured during the induction and during a 20-minute lecture-style-video learning episode. Following this, their memory performance was measured using a 20-item multiple-choice test. It was predicted that the MBM condition would lead to less mind wandering during the learning episode and better performance on the test compared to the LKM and music-listening relaxation conditions. Results were not consistent with the hypotheses, however they revealed a significant effect of LKM in improving test performance. These findings and the implications of this research project will be discussed in this thesis.
Keyword Mindfulness

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