How to think about your drink: Action-identification and the relation between mindfulness and dyscontrolled drinking
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2016
Pages: 51 - 56
Source ID: shanti-sources-109111
Collection: Mindfulness Studies and Undergraduates
Abstract: Cross-sectional and intervention research have shown that mindfulness is inversely associated with difficulties in controlling alcohol use. However, little is known regarding the mechanisms through which mindfulness is related to increased control over drinking. One potential mechanism consists of the way individuals represent their drinking behaviour. Action identification theory proposes that self-control of behaviour is improved by shifting from high-level representations regarding the meaning of a behaviour to lower-level representations regarding “how-to” aspects of a behaviour. Because mindfulness involves present-moment awareness, it may help to facilitate such shifts. We hypothesized that an inverse relation between mindfulness and dyscontrolled drinking would be partially accounted for by the way individuals mentally represent their drinking behaviour — i.e., reduced levels of high-level action identification and increased levels of low-level action identification. One hundred and twenty five undergraduate psychology students completed self-report measures of mindful awareness, action identification of alcohol use, and difficulty in controlling alcohol use. Results supported the hypothesis that high-level action identification partially mediates the relation between mindfulness and dyscontrolled drinking but did not support a mediating role for low-level action identification. These results suggest that mindfulness can improve self-control of alcohol by changing the way we think about our drinking behaviour.