Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

8-2014

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department

Psychological and Brain Sciences

Committee Chair

Salmon, Paul Gregory, 1948-

Committee Member

Linfield, Ken

Committee Member

Lyle, Keith

Committee Member

Mast, Benjamin

Committee Member

Sephton, Sandra

Subject

Interoception; Psychophysiology

Abstract

Sustained, non-evaluative, present moment interoception or ? "mindful interoception" (MI) is a central feature of many widely practiced clinical interventions, including mindfulness-based therapies, cognitive-behavioral therapies, focusing-oriented psychotherapy, and Gestalt therapy. However, to date, no valid measures of MI have been developed. The lack of such a measure has precluded attempts to discern A) to what extent MI ability changes as a function of MI-based therapies, B) if change in MI mediates symptom reduction, and C) if individual differences in MI ability are associated with anxiety, mindfulness, and other hypothetically related constructs. The purpose of the current study was to develop and validate the first such measure of MI, the Mindful Interoception Sampling Task (MIST). The MIST is a behavioral measure of MI, in which participants focus attention on sequential regions of the body and are periodically prompted to report whether their attention has wandered. Higher scores on the MIST are thus hypothetically reflective of lower levels of MI. One hundred eight participants were recruited from undergraduate psychology courses for this study. Participants were administered the MIST and the Schandry heartbeat detection task, a widely used behavioral measure of interoception. A battery of questionnaires was also administered, and resting heart rate and blood pressure were recorded. Results of this study indicate the MIST is a valid behavioral measure of mindfulness, the first of its kind. Further research is still needed to determine whether the MIST specifically measures MI. Current findings, however, do suggest the newly identified construct of MI is an important and promising focus of clinical research.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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