Mindfulness in the face of death
LE3 .A278 2018
Master of Science
The current study examined the effect of mindfulness on people’s emotional states following a mortality reminder. In Study 1, mortality salience (MS) was followed by either a delay period, allowing time for anxiety buffers to engage, or no delay period. The pattern of results suggested that individuals who are low in mindfulness showed increased anxiety following a delay (but not immediately after MS exposure), while individuals who were high in mindfulness showed low levels of anxiety regardless of delay. To help determine how individuals high in mindfulness remained relatively even-keeled regardless of delay, Study 2 provided some participants with an opportunity to defend (by means of self-enhancement) to assess the possibility that highly mindful people are simply more likely to engage self-esteem defenses rather than worldview defenses. After MS, participants with high mindfulness evaluated themselves significantly more positively than their low mindfulness counterparts. Mediational analyses revealed that mindfulness was negatively associated with anxiety in the MS condition by virtue of being positively associated with self-enhancement. The current research suggests that people high in mindfulness exhibit highly positive self-views, which helps to reduce anxiety in the face of death. However, this does not fully account for the negative relationship between mindfulness and anxiety. This research contributes to the idea that the death-anxiety can be mitigated without engaging in defense, but further research is needed to better explain the role of mindfulness in this process.
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