Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

8-2020

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department

Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Clinical Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Salmon, Paul

Committee Member

Sephton, Sandra

Committee Member

DeCaro, Marci

Committee Member

Cash, Elizabeth

Committee Member

Mitchell, Amanda

Author's Keywords

mindfulness; gratitude; depression; undergraduates

Abstract

The practice and research of mindfulness has increased exponentially in recent decades; however, the study of gratitude maintains modest growth. While the overlap between gratitude and mindfulness may be intuitive, empirical investigation is lacking. The present study sought to investigate the relative and combined influence of mindfulness and gratitude with symptoms of depression in undergraduates. The current study explored these constructs in the context of a mindfulness-based intervention known as Koru. One hundred undergraduate participants provided self-report measures of demographics, mindfulness, gratitude, and symptoms of depression prior to the intervention and again immediately following. Participants were required to complete electronic logs each evening responding to whether they meditated, meditation duration and type and what they were grateful for. Correlational analyses revealed that at baseline, gratitude was significantly associated with state but not trait mindfulness. Gratitude, state mindfulness, and trait mindfulness were all significantly negatively related to depression at baseline. Following Koru, gratitude significantly increased from baseline to follow-up, while symptoms of depression significantly decreased. Koru class attendance and gratitude log completion significantly predicted the slope of reduction in depression. Slope of change in state mindfulness mediated the change in symptoms of depression. Results of the intervention demonstrate promise for the reduction in depression and increase in gratitude through practicing mindfulness. Finally, results of mediation analyses suggest that the increase in mindfulness may be contributing to the beneficial results of Koru. Overall, implementation of mindfulness-based interventions on college campuses—that incorporate both mindfulness and gratitude—may help alleviate psychological distress.

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