Amy Garrett, Chair
Presenters: Karen Bluth. Kristen Lyons, and Emily W. Shih
Saturday, February 27, 2016 | 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Does Self-Compassion Protect Adolescents From Stress?
The aim of this study was to determine whether adolescents who were high in self-compassion self-reported different levels of emotional wellbeing than adolescents who were low in self-compassion, and to determine whether those high in self-compassion responded differently under a lab social stressor than those low in self-compassion. In a lab setting, 28 participants (76% female, 62% white, and 86% participants’ mothers and 70% of participants’ fathers had at least a college degree) completed the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Physiological stress was assessed via salivary cortisol, heart rate, blood pressure, and heart rate variability at baseline, during the TSST, and during recovery. After the lab assessment, participants also completed measures of perceived stress, life satisfaction, and positive and negative affect. Results from t-tests indicated that those high in self-compassion (≥ the median) self-reported greater emotional wellbeing than those low in self-compassion (< the median). Those in the high self-compassion group also had some indication of a lower physiologic stress response when exposed to the TSST than those in the low self-compassion group. There were no meaningful differences between groups in relation to cortisol output or heart rate variability. Regression analyses demonstrated that baseline self-compassion predicted self-reported emotional wellbeing, and effect sizes indicate that self-compassion may have a buffering effect in protecting adolescents from social stress.
- Articulate the difference in associations between those high and low in self-compassion on self-reported dimensions of emotional wellbeing.
- Describe the differences in those high and low in self-compassion on physiological stress responses.
- Discuss implications for applicability of findings in therapeutic and educational settings.
Emily W. Shih1, Leanne Bishara1, Parisa Parsafar1, Christina Nicolaides1, Angela Sillars1, Akhila Nekkanti1, Jamie Price2, Loren Witcher2, & Elizabeth L. Davis1
The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Youth’s
Socioemotional Functioning and Psychophysiology
University of California, Riverside1; Tools for Peace Organization2
Mindfulness based practices appeal to youth in part because they teach self-management techniques that help adolescents take charge of their own growth and development (Semple, Reid, & Miller, 2005). We examined the effects of Mindfulness Meditation (MM) training on adolescents’ functioning across multiple domains (e.g., physiological, socioemotional) during a one-week summer camp. 29 11- to 17-year-olds (Mage = 13.97 years; 17 girls), participated in two biobehavioral assessments, at the beginning (T1) and end of the week (T2). Increases in resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) scores indicated increased parasympathetic dominance of the autonomic nervous system ANS (a sign of enhanced emotion regulatory capabilities). Increases in resting pre-ejection period (PEP), in contrast, indicated decreased sympathetic influence (less expenditure of metabolic resources). Campers whose resting RSA level increased from T1 to T2 showed improvements in socioemotional functioning including emotionally awareness [t(9)=2.521, p=.033], anxiety, [t(6)=2.997, p=.024], and feeling connected to others, [t(9)=2.714, p=.024]. Campers whose resting PEP levels increased from T1 to T2 also became more emotionally aware t(7)=3.789, p=.007, more mindful towards others, t(7)=3.130, p=.017, and felt less isolated t(7)=2.393, p=.048. Higher parasympathetic and lower sympathetic activation are adaptive resting physiological patterns, and this particular profile of RSA and PEP suggests improved emotion regulatory abilities and less emotional arousal/stress. These findings provide new evidence that MM fosters improvements in children’s stress response systems.
- Examine the effects of immersive mindfulness training on youths’ physiological and socioemotional functioning.
- Describe interrelated patterns of change in the domains of youth psychophysiology and socioemotional functioning that are typical of mindfulness training.
- Identify specific psychophysiological profiles among youth that predict variability in socioemotional gains over the week (e.g., which youths are likely to benefit the most from mindfulness training?)
Mindfulness training in Adolescents and Adults: Effects on Cognitive Control and Emotion Regulation
In two experiments we investigated the effect of mindfulness training on self-regulation in adolescents and adults.
Experiment 1 was a behavioral study. Participants were randomly assigned to mindfulness training, relaxation training, or no training. All participants completed a battery of tasks assessing cognitive control and emotion regulation prior to the training and after it was completed. Significant effects of mindfulness training were observed on the emotion-regulation tasks, but not the cognitive-control tasks. Interestingly, a significant effect of mindfulness training was observed in adolescents on both emotion-regulation tasks, but was only observed in adults on one of the emotion-regulation tasks, suggesting that perhaps the efficacy of mindfulness training may be more robust in adolescents compared to adults.
We followed this up with an fMRI study in which adolescents and adults were randomly assigned to complete either mindfulness or relaxation training. Pre- and post-test assessments of cognitive control and emotion-regulation were completed in the scanner. Data analysis is ongoing but preliminary analyses suggest that mindfulness training (but not relaxation training) leads to behavioral changes in reorienting of attention and changes in patterns of cortical activity in regions thought to be important for attentional control.
Overall, results suggest that mindfulness training improves the functioning of certain (but not all) aspects of cognitive control and emotion regulation. Implications for education and clinical practice will be discussed.
- Describe what is currently known about the effects of mindfulness training on self-regulation in adolescents and adults
- Identify challenges in conducting and interpreting research on the effects of mindfulness training in adolescents
- Apply research findings to clinical practice and/or educational settings