بررسی اثرات یک برنامه مدیتیشن 8 هفته ای بر روی نگرش ضمنی و صریح به سمت خودتضمینی مذهبی/معنوی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|31842||2014||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||12380 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Consciousness and Cognition, Volume 30, November 2014, Pages 266–280
Explicit self-representations often conflict with implicit and intuitive self-representations, with such discrepancies being seen as a source of psychological tension. Most of previous research on the psychological effects of mindfulness-meditation has assessed people’s self-attitudes at an explicit level, leaving unknown whether mindfulness-meditation promotes changes on implicit self-representations. Here, we assessed the changes in implicit and explicit self-related religious/spiritual (RS) representations in healthy participants following an 8-week mindfulness-oriented meditation (MOM) program. Before and after meditation, participants were administered implicit (implicit association test) and explicit (self-reported questionnaires) RS measures. Relative to control condition, MOM led to increases of implicit RS in individuals whit low pre-existing implicit RS and to more widespread increases in explicit RS. On the assumption that MOM practice may enhance the clarity of one’s transcendental thoughts and feelings, we argued that MOM allows people to transform their intuitive feelings of implicit RS as well as their explicit RS attitudes.
People have two sources of self-evaluative tendencies. The first roots in high order propositional processes of deliberative reasoning in which well-articulated beliefs, motivations, and goals shape individuals’ explicit attitudes. The second source relies instead on largely automatic and associative processes in which intuitive, “gut” evaluations and feelings, which people may or may not be aware of, shape individuals’ implicit attitudes (Gawronski and Bodenhausen, 2006 and Jordan et al., 2007). For example, when we have to make decisions in our daily life, for instance choosing whether to accept or not a new job, we are frequently faced with situations in which we experience a psychological conflict between rational, reflective evaluations and other more intuitive feelings. Of importance, these conflicts do not only occur during appreciation of the external situations, but also affect more personal spheres, concerning self-representations and self-attitudes (Emmons and King, 1988, Gawronski and Bodenhausen, 2006 and Greenwald and Banaji, 1995). Indeed, the multicomponent representation of the self includes both explicit aspects that are available to our conscious thinking and, eventually, to verbal description, and more implicit aspects that are barely available to us (Morin, 2006). Methodologically, while explicit attitudes are measured directly with self-report questionnaires and scales, implicit attitudes are inferred indirectly from people’s performance on reaction times measures such as the Implicit Association Test (IAT) (Greenwald and Farnham, 2000 and Greenwald et al., 1998), the Affect Misattribution Procedure (Payne, Cheng, Govorun, & Stewart, 2005), the sequential priming task (Fazio, Jackson, Dunton, & Williams, 1995), or the name–letter task (Nuttin, 1985), which are more difficult to control or to fake and do not require self-reflection or the intent to self-evaluate on the part of the respondent. A large body of research has shown that explicit and implicit measures of self-attitudes are frequently unrelated or weakly correlated to each other, with implicit measures explaining some variability in attitudes that self-report, explicit measures do not, for instance in fields such as religious/spiritual behavior and feelings in which self-report measures are particularly susceptible to desirable responding and other confounding factors (Bosson et al., 2000, Jordan et al., 2007, Koole et al., 2001, Koole et al., 2009, Krizan and Suls, 2008, LaBouff et al., 2010 and Sedikides and Gebauer, 2010). More importantly, incongruities between explicit and implicit self-representations have been associated to different forms of psychological suffering (Bosson et al., 2003, Briñol et al., 2006, Gawronski and Bodenhausen, 2006, Koole et al., 2009, Schröder-Abé et al., 2007, Schröder-Abé et al., 2007 and Zeigler-Hill and Terry, 2007), and this justifies the large effort that has been made in order to understand which could be the factors able to moderate the concordance between explicit and implicit attitudes, hence contributing to a more coherent self-image. For instance, it has been shown that when people rely more on intuitive feelings towards the self and less on conscious self-reflection, the congruence between explicit and implicit self-attitudes is encouraged. In different experiments, this was obtained by engaging people in self-evaluation under time-pressure or under heightened cognitive load (Koole et al., 2001), or yet by asking participants to complete implicit measures using “gut feelings” vs. reflective thought (Jordan et al., 2007 and Pelham et al., 2005). Moreover, the correspondence between implicit and explicit self-measures is the higher the more the implicit attitudes are perceived as valid and accepted (Gawronski and Bodenhausen, 2006 and Jordan et al., 2007). A potentially useful construct for the study of individuals’ self-attitudes is mindfulness. Mindfulness is an attribute of consciousness that consists of being aware of and attentive to what is occurring in the present moment (Brown and Ryan, 2003 and Kabat-Zinn, 1994). Mindfulness skills, which are developed effectively through the practice of meditation (Baer, 2003 and Kabat-Zinn, 1994), have been shown to promote a variety of well-being outcomes, for instance in anxiety, depression, immune function, chronic pain, stress and substance-abuse problems (Baer, 2003, Brown and Ryan, 2003 and Chiesa and Serretti, 2010). An important quality of mindful awareness is the promotion of non-judgmental awareness of the self in which activated self-feelings, thoughts, and sensations are not attempted to be changed by the perceiver but are instead observed and accepted. Mindfulness awareness, and its cultivation through meditation, would operate through erosion of habitual patterns of responding and of the use of evaluative language and thinking; this would promote self-insights and a greater acceptance of one’s internal states including intuitive feelings, potentially leading to transformation of implicit self-attitudes and perhaps to better tuning of one’s implicit and explicit self-representations (Brown and Ryan, 2003, Chambers et al., 2008, Koole et al., 2009 and Vago and Silbersweig, 2012). Despite it being likely that implicit cognition and intuition are important aspects of mindfulness, it should be noted that most of the previous studies on the impact of mindfulness meditation on psychological health have only considered explicit self-report measures. While this may have exaggerated the ease with which people were seen to change their attitudes in these previous studies (Chambers et al., 2008 and Wilson et al., 2000), the sole investigation of explicit cognition has also precluded the possibility of taking into account the effects of mindfulness on implicit cognition, both in isolation and together with explicit cognition. In fact, only a few studies exist on dispositional or state mindfulness (independently from continued meditation practice) and implicit and explicit measures of the self (Brown and Ryan, 2003, Hutcherson et al., 2008, Koole et al., 2009, Levesque and Brown, 2007, Sauer et al., 2011 and Strick et al., 2012); some of these studies also took explicitly into account whether mindfulness promotes congruency between explicit and implicit self-measures (Brown and Ryan, 2003 and Koole et al., 2009). Although very valuable, these previous studies have, however, left unaddressed the issue of whether regular meditation practice during a mindfulness training period of a few months can have a direct impact on implicit as well as explicit measures of the self. The present study was aimed at examining this issue by trying to directly put into relation the effects of an 8-week mindfulness-oriented meditation training (MOM) on implicit and explicit religious/spiritual self-representations. Explicit and implicit attitudes toward religiousness/spirituality (RS) were investigated in two groups of healthy, meditation naïve, participants; the first group was involved in a MOM training, while the other group was not involved in any meditation practice and formed the control group. Explicit and implicit RS were investigated in the present study for a variety of reasons. First, recent empirical evidence has suggested a close link between mindfulness and spirituality, in that participation in a mindfulness meditation training, although occurring within a secular context, may be associated with increases in explicit measures of spirituality and, more generally, with increased daily spiritual experiences (Carmody et al., 2008, Falb and Pargament, 2012, Geary and Rosenthal, 2011, Greeson et al., 2011 and Wachholtz and Pargament, 2008). Second, in the light of evidence suggesting that spirituality may be a possible mechanism by which mindfulness training leads to beneficial outcomes such as improvements in medical and psychological symptoms (Carmody et al., 2008 and Greeson et al., 2011), it appears important to investigate the potential influence of mindfulness meditation on RS at both levels of implicit and explicit representations. The importance of such an investigation, and of its potential implication for psychological health, is suggested by the fact that, except few exceptions (e.g., Crescentini et al., 2014 and LaBouff et al., 2010), the scientific study of RS, including the beneficial effects of mindfulness meditation, has so far neglected the contribution of implicit measures that, as briefly mentioned, can go beyond that carried by explicit measures. In the present study, the Implicit Association Test (IAT) (Greenwald et al., 1998) was used to assess automatic associations between the self and RS dimensions (RS-IAT). Generally speaking, the IAT is one of the most frequently used implicit tests to measure the strength of automatic concept-attribute associations, that are thought to underlie some aspects of personality (Greenwald and Farnham, 2000 and Schnabel et al., 2008), including RS (LaBouff et al., 2010; see also Crescentini et al., 2014); its validity and psychometric properties have been demonstrated in a number of studies (e.g., Cunningham et al., 2001 and Greenwald et al., 2003). Thus, a complimentary aim of the present study was to further validate initial applications of automatic self-concept research methods (i.e., RS-IAT) to the scientific study of RS (LaBouff et al., 2010). On this view, we also aimed to extend to meditation research more recent and refined (in terms of variety and psycholinguistic features of the stimuli employed) applications of RS-IAT showing fast plasticity of RS self-representations after magnetic brain stimulation (Crescentini et al., 2014). Following the typical IAT procedure, the RS-IAT was assessed in the current study by having participants categorize stimuli from four categories of words – two target categories (referring to the concept of self and other) and two attribute categories (RS and non-RS words) – by pressing one of two response keys. In separate blocks, which are referred to as congruent or incongruent on the basis of the expected direction of self-attribute associations (e.g., RS and self; see methods), each response key is paired with one or the other target category and one or the other attribute category. Generally, the main assumption of the IAT is that strongly associated concept-attribute pairs are easier to classify when they are associated to the same response key than are weakly associated pairs. This difference is generally used to infer the individuals’ associations between the target category and specific evaluative attributes or traits investigated in an IAT. Furthermore, to assess how specific the potential effects of MOM on implicit measures of RS self-representations were, we employed another IAT which again called into question self/other-concepts but not RS dimensions. We thus developed a self-esteem-IAT (SE-IAT) where self vs. other target words were associated to good vs. bad attribute categories (i.e., positive vs. negative valence words, respectively), again in congruent vs. incongruent conditions (Crescentini et al., 2014 and Greenwald and Farnham, 2000). Finally, explicit, self-report measures of RS, namely the Self Transcendence (ST) scale of the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) (Cloninger, Przybeck, Svrakic, & Wetzel, 1994) and the index of core spiritual experiences questionnaire (INSPIRIT) (Kass, Friedman, Lesserman, Zuttermeister, & Benson, 1991), as well as measures of dispositional mindfulness (Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) (Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006), were also collected. Given the proposed intuitive nature of mindful awareness and the positive association between meditation and spiritual experiences, we hypothesized that continued practice during an 8-week long MOM training could directly impact individuals’ implicit, as well as explicit, RS self-representations. We thus expected that the RS-IAT could be sensitive to manipulations of spirituality via meditation practice. 2. Materials and methods 2.1. Participants Fifteen Italian participants (3 males) took part in the MOM training (mean age = 44.53, SD = 9.43; years of education: 16.53, SD = 1.02). The experimental tasks and questionnaires described below were administered to all participants in a first session occurring on average 2.07 days before the MOM training starting date; the actual session time ranged from 8 days before to 7 days after the MOM training starting date since two subjects were tested just before the second MOM meeting (analogous results to those presented in the following sections were obtained when we repeated all analyses excluding these two participants). Furthermore, the same measures were also administered to 14 out of the 15 participants (it was impossible to administer the tasks to one 47 year-old female participant after the MOM training) in a second session taking place on average 6.57 days (range: 2–12 days) after the MOM training ending date. A convenience sample of 15 Italian participants (9 males) (mean age = 37.53, SD = 11.29; years of education: 16.13, SD = 1.58), matched for age (t(28) = 1.78, p = .09, ηp2 = 0.102) and years of education (t(28) = 0.79, p = .43, ηp2 = 0.022) to the MOM training group, took also part in the study as control group. The latter sample of individuals was asked not to engage in any training course and was also tested in two separate sessions. On average for the two groups, 69.5 days (range: 55–81 days) passed between the two testing sessions. In general, the two samples of participants were recruited through advertisements and by word of mouth from different professional contexts in the local population (master students, hospital employees -administrative personnel, nurses, physicians, general business employees). Participants were invited to take part to a psychological study that involved responding to a series of questionnaires and performing computerized tasks at the beginning and at the end of an 8-weekly-session training; the precise nature of the training and of the tests was explained only at the first individual meeting, thus reducing recruitment biases related to specific interest to meditation. Despite the limitations of a convenience sampling procedure in terms of generalization of the results to the general population and the absence of an active control group (see Section 4 for further details), the fact that all recruited participants had no previous experience with mindfulness meditation or with the outcome measures used in the study ensured that the research questions addressed in the current investigation could adequately be answered. All participants reported normal or corrected-to normal vision, no past history of neurological or mental illness. Signed informed consent was obtained before participation in the study from all participants. The study was approved by the local Ethics Committee and was in accordance with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki.