Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


41st Annual Convention; San Antonio, TX; 2015

Event Details

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Symposium #468
CE Offered: BACB
How Behavior Analysis Can Shape our Understanding of Mindfulness
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Texas Ballroom Salon C (Grand Hyatt)
Area: CBM/PRA; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Eliina Novamo (The University of North Texas)
Discussant: Jonathan J. Tarbox (Autism Research Group, Center for Autism and Relat)
CE Instructor: Jonathan J. Tarbox, Ph.D.
Abstract: Recent interest among clinical behavior analysts has stimulated a growing body of research on meditation and mindfulness. Practices that enhance mindfulness show promise in decreasing distress and increasing overall well-being in a variety of contexts (e.g., Baer, Carmody, & Hunsinger, 2012). This symposium will explore those benefits as well as discuss how researchers, practitioners, and clients understand and approach mindfulness practices. The first paper will discuss pervasive myths and misconceptions about meditation, as well as explore how specific misconceptions can be used to shape mindfulness related behavior. The second paper examines undergraduates’ conceptions of self and others’ present moment awareness pre and post meditation practice. The third paper will present a longitudinal study examining quality of life for novice meditators using single-subject analyses. The fourth paper will examine two studies focusing on mindfulness training for personal productivity of teachers and teachers’ assistants. Implications of improving the definition, practice, and research of meditation and mindfulness practices will be discussed throughout.
Keyword(s): Interpersonal Perception, Mindfulness, Productivity, Single-subject
Full-lotus and an empty mind: Exploring the prevalence and impact of common misconceptions about meditation
ETHAN LESTER (University of North Texas), Danielle Moyer (University of North Texas), Amy Murrell (University of North Texas)
Abstract: The practice of mindfulness and meditation is gaining popular recognition in western society, and among clinical behavior analysts. The use of mindfulness and meditation in therapeutic contexts has led to improvement in a variety of presenting difficulties (e.g., stress; Baer, Carmody, & Hunsinger, 2012; anxiety; Kabat-Zinn, Massion, Kristeller, & Peterson, 1992). Unfortunately given these recognized benefits, attrition in mindfulness-based interventions is high. Low treatment completion rates, at least in part, can be accounted for by a pervasive misunderstanding of mindfulness and meditation practices (Williams, Van Ness, & McCorkle, 2011). It appears that specific misconceptions make up the popular understanding of mindfulness, and these myths can interfere with learning and applying useful skills. This conceptual paper intends to explore the prevalence of common myths and misconceptions about meditation, specifically. A discussion about how these topics could inform future research on identifying the specific behaviors that compose mindfulness more broadly will be included. Furthermore, this paper will start a conversation that addresses how myths and misconceptions can be utilized to guide shaping of public behavior and private events relevant to mindfulness.
Seeing and Being Present: Discriminating Present Moment Awareness in the Self and Other
REBECCA COPELL (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Grayson Butcher (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Stephanie Caldas (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), Ashlyne Mullen (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Abstract: Clinical behavior analysis is increasingly targeting “being present.” Present moment awareness is posited to be an important component of psychological health, and a mechanism of therapeutic change. In short, present moment awareness is proposed as necessary for much human learning. If this is true, then discriminating present moment awareness is important for all agents of behavior change. Practically speaking, such discrimination might begin with defining present moment awareness. For behavior analysts, however, defining present moment awareness presents a significant challenge. Common definitions seem to involve reference to not only a private event (e.g., anxiety), but layers of private events (e.g., awareness of anxiety). It may be, however, that the socioverbal community already possesses some consensus, although not well-articulated, about what present moment awareness looks like. In this study, undergraduate participants observed video recordings of individuals describing personal experiences before and after mindfulness meditation. They recorded when, during each video, the individual seemed to be particularly present, rated the individual’s overall level of present moment awareness, and rated their own level of present moment awareness. Observations were examined for agreement, convergence between self and other ratings, and differences between pre- and post meditation.
Mindfulness Meditation: Using Statistics to Ensure the Behaviors of Single Subjects Remain our Primary Analytic Units
SOLOMON KURZ (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: Many group-based studies show mindfulness meditation can facilitate a life lived well. However, these findings are limited in that group-level analyses provide “average” results for “average” participants. The question largely remains: How do individual meditators fare over time? Group-level inference is no longer necessary to apply rigorous statistical models to longitudinal data. Modern techniques, such as the dynamic p-technique, allow for multivariate single-subject statistical analyses. The dynamic p-technique also allows behavioral researchers to inductively aggregate single-subject statistical models from multiple participants into functionally defined group models. However, the fundamental analytic units remain the behaviors of single subjects. In the present paper, we will present the statistical analyses of daily diary data from several novice meditators. Undergraduate participants tracked their data using smartphone apps over the course of a semester. Behaviors of interest are mindfulness meditation, sleep, worry, psychological inflexibility, and satisfaction with life. Using the dynamic p-technique, we will first present single-subject analyses and then augment those analyses with small group models. Future directions will include discussions of smart technology for data collection and methodological refinements for experimental control.

Immediate and Delayed Effects of Mindfulness on Productivity: Results from Laboratory and Applied Settings

JESSICA DWYER (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Alison Beauvais Carris (Elim Christian School), Scott Herbst (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Fawna Stockwell (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)

Few studies have examined the effects of mindfulness training on personal productivity. This paper will present two studies examining the effects of mindfulness on productivity. The first experiment used an alternating treatments design in which eight adult participants engaged in a brief mindfulness exercise or educational control before completing math problems while also engaging in a cold-pressor task. Results suggested that brief mindfulness training increased pain tolerance, but effects on productivity were not clear. The second experiment extends on this research by examining if repeated practice, both in a work environment as well as at home, results in gains in productivity. Participants were teachers and teacher’s assistants. Participants completed mindfulness sessions during a planning period, as well as at home, on a daily basis. The experimenters used a multiple baseline across participants design to evaluate the effects of mindfulness practice on the number of words written for lesson planning or on progress notes.




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