Dispositional Mindfulness, Meditation, and Conditional Goal Setting
Crane C., Jandric D., Barnhofer T., Williams JMG.
Conditional goal setting (CGS, the tendency to regard high order goals such as happiness, as conditional upon the achievement of lower order goals) is observed in individuals with depression and recent research has suggested a link between levels of dispositional mindfulness and conditional goal setting in depressed patients. Since interventions which aim to increase mindfulness through training in meditation are used with patients suffering from depression it is of interest to examine whether such interventions might alter CGS. Study 1 examined the correlation between changes in dispositional mindfulness and changes in CGS over a 3-4 month period in patients participating in a pilot randomised controlled trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Results indicated that increases in dispositional mindfulness were significantly associated with decreases in CGS, although this effect could not be attributed specifically to the group who had received training in meditation. Study 2 explored the impact of brief periods of either breathing or loving kindness meditation on CGS in 55 healthy participants. Contrary to expectation, a brief period of meditation increased CGS. Further analyses indicated that this effect was restricted to participants low in goal re-engagement ability who were allocated to loving kindness meditation. Longer term changes in dispositional mindfulness are associated with reductions in CGS in patients with depressed mood. However initial reactions to meditation, and in particular loving kindness meditation, may be counterintuitive and further research is required in order to determine the relationship between initial reactions and longer-term benefits of meditation practice. © 2010 The Author(s).