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Mental noise can be defined as less reliable information processing. Individuals with high levels of mental noise are thought to be disadvantaged in cognitive, emotional, and behavioural realms. The present five studies (total N=298) investigated such potential disadvantages among normally functioning college undergraduates. Mental noise was operationalised in terms of the reaction time coefficient of variation (RTCV), a measure of RT variability that corrects for average levels of mental speed. Individuals with higher RTCV exhibited less effective cognitive control (Studies 1 and 5), less controlled behaviour (Study 2), and were more prone to negative emotional experiences (Study 3) and depressive symptoms (Study 4). Study 5 extended these results and found that individuals higher (versus lower) in RTCV were more adversely affected by their attentional lapses in daily life. Results converge on the idea that mental noise is an important individual difference dimension with multiple adverse correlates and consequences.
In this chapter, we begin to explore the wealth of research and theory on the implications of mindfulness for emotional experience by examining a variety of models of mindfulness and how they inform mindful emotion regulation. Then, we provide an empirical overview of the role of mindfulness in general emotional states, emotional reactions to stimuli and events, and emotions over time. Within this overview, we provide evidence for several distinct avenues through which mindfulness benefits emotion regulation, including increased willingness to experience negative emotions, reduced reactivity to emotional stimuli and situations, a decentered perspective, and increased emotional stability; we also highlight some research which suggests the neurological underpinnings of mindful emotion regulation. Finally, we link the impact of mindfulness on emotion regulation to behavioral change. Specifically, by highlighting research on smoking, alcohol use, and other addictive behaviors, we demonstrate that emotion regulation serves as a key mechanism in the relationship between mindfulness and some domains of behavioral regulation.
Neuroticism’s prediction of negative emotional outcomes has been linked to negative reactivity tendencies. Dispositional mindfulness, defined in terms of being attentive and aware (versus not) of present-moment reality, appears to mitigate negative reactivity tendencies. The present two studies, involving 289 undergraduate participants, sought to integrate these two personality-processing perspectives. Neuroticism was an inverse predictor of mindfulness and both neuroticism and mindfulness independently predicted trait anger (Study 1) and depressive symptoms (Study 2). Of more importance, neuroticism–outcome relations were stronger (weaker) among individuals low (high) in mindfulness. The results document the role that dispositional mindfulness appears to play in moderating neuroticism’s pernicious correlates. Results are discussed from personality, cognitive, emotional, social, and clinical perspectives.
Neuroticism is an individual difference variable reflecting proneness to negative emotional experiences. High levels of neuroticism are often associated with impulsivity and behavioral dysregulation. Three studies, involving a total of 226 undergraduate participants, were conducted in an effort to better understand the relationship between neuroticism and behavioral dysregulation. Based on relevant theory, it was hypothesized that relations between neuroticism and behavioral dysregulation would be mediated by individual differences in mindfulness. As hypothesized, neuroticism was an inverse predictor of mindfulness and higher levels of mindfulness were associated with (a) lower levels of impulsivity and (b) higher levels of self-control, both assessed in dispositional terms. Furthermore, mindfulness fully mediated the relations between neuroticism and these outcome variables. On the basis of the findings, then, a mindfulness-mediation perspective of neuroticism's behavioral correlates was supported. Implications focus on personality-process perspectives of neuroticism, clinical considerations, and the role of mindfulness in behavioral self-regulation.