Mentor: Professor Mark Schulz
Mindfulness can be defined as the ability to focus one’s attention on present moment experiences in a nonjudgmental way (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). Some conceptualizations of anxiety suggest that anxious people focus too much on internal signs of physiological awareness. However, they often overestimate signs of physiological arousal and their awareness may not be accurate which would mean that they have low mindfulness (Hofmann, 1999). I will be examining links between anxiety and bodily awareness (often thought of as a sign of mindfulness), as measured by the accuracy of self-reported thought
count and self-reported muscular tension in the forehead. I will also be comparing the self reports of mindfulness and anxiety to our physiological data. Anxious people may have low mindfulness because they are unable to stay in the moment because they spend much of their time worrying about the past or the future (Molina, Borkovec, Peasley, & Pearson, 1998). By examining the accuracy of thought cunting and forehead tension, the difference between the hypersensitivity of anxiety and mindfulness may emerge.
It is hypothesized that anxious people will be more accurate, and thus more mindful, in their ability to correctly recall the number of their thoughts, but less accurate, and less mindful, in their ability to correctly estimate their forehead tension. In addition to examining these two categories of mindfulness, I will also be researching how mindfulness fits in with cognitive behavioral therapy for anxious people, how people can be taught to be more mindful, and the benefits of being mindful.