A Physiological Comparison between Mindfulness and Cognitive Reappraisal
Bowlin, Stephanie Lynne
University of Kansas
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An increasing number of diverse therapeutic techniques are being prescribed to deal with distress, and some techniques ask individuals to engage in quite different forms of coping. While mindfulness and cognitive changes techniques both have research backing to suggest that they effectively promote actively approaching distress and promote change through greater control, they are rarely compared to one another empirically. The current study is a step in the direction of systemic physiological comparison between mindfulness and cognitive modification as methods of coping with stress during stress versus recovery. Eighty-four participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions--observe/describe, acceptance, and reappraisal. Participants were instructed to write about a past sad life event and to evoke physiological reactivity, and then they were asked cope with their distress using the technique they were assigned. As dependent measures, blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) were collected. Differences between conditions during coping and recovery were examined. Overall, results indicated that there were not significant differences between the three conditions during coping or recovery. Only one statistically significant effect was discovered between conditions, which is not enough evidence to suggest the conditions are distinct enough to warrant clinical attention. Results are discussed in light of the fact that there has been limited research conducted comparing the two theoretical approaches utilizing physiological data.
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