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Indian Journal of Positive Psychology © 2017 Indian Association of Health, Research and Welfare

2017, 8(3), 415-419 ISSN-p-2229-4937,e-2321-368X


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Study of mindfulness and cognitive failure among young adults


Surjeet Singh and Nov Rattan Sharma
Department of Psychology, Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak, Haryana

Mindfulness is a state of present- time awareness; which can be experienced and quite helpful to fabricate the sense
of well-being and can decrease cognitive and behavioral error in our daily lives. Cognitive failures or errors are
clearly a part of everyday life and can be observed in our behavior. These errors include distractions, blunders,
memory lapses, and oversights, perceptual and attentional error. Hence it is expected that mindfulness would be
negatively associate with cognitive failure and enhance our sense of health and well-being in a better way. The
present study is planned to examine the nature of the relationship between Mindfulness and cognitive failure.
Present study includes a sample of 80 young adults of both gender (Male=40; Female= 40). Mindfulness Attention
Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003) and Cognitive Failure Questionnaire (CFQ; Broadbent, Cooper,
FitzGerald, & Parkes, 1982) were administered to fulfillment the purpose of the present study. The results of the
present study revealed that mindfulness is negatively associated with cognitive failures view aroused state of active
cognitive processes. The current study found a significant negative correlation between mindfulness and cognitive
failures. In other words, the person who is more mindful were made overall the fewer cognitive errors. The practice
of mindfulness increased information processing speed, cognitive flexibility, attentional functioning.

Keywords: mindfulness, cognitive failure, adults

In today's world we are leading a busy and over stimulated life. In the Therefore it appears to contrast with the concept of cognitive
rush to accomplish necessary tasks, we may find our self is losing our failures.
connection with the present moment missing out on what we are Cognitive failures: Cognitive failures are thought to include
doing and how we are feeling. Disruption in cognition is increasing perceptual, attentional, memory, and action-related mental lapses
and effects our behavior in a negative way. Mindfulness is now being (Broadbent, Cooper, FitzGerald, & Parkes, 1982). Similarly, the
examined scientifically and has been found to be one of the important defining feature of dissociation is the disruption of a person's usually
factor required to reduce cognitive failures. integrated cognitive processes, such as consciousness, memory,
Mindfulness: Mindfulness can be defined as “a state of psychological identity, and perception (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
freedom that occurs when attention remains quiet and limber, Cognitive failures have been related to an inability to attend to a task
without attachment to any particular point of view” (Martin, 1997). and to lapses of attention to errors in task execution (blunders) and to
Dispositional mindfulness is considered a naturally occurring personality traits such as boredom proneness, and to overload of
characteristic and is assessed by asking individuals to report on their short-term memory leading. Broadbent et al. (1982) developed the
tendencies to have sustained awareness and attention to what occurs “cognitive failure questionnaire (CFQ) which is a self-report
in the present moment of their everyday life (Bowen & Enkema, measure of failure in perception, memory and motor function. Rast,
2014). Mindfulness is a subtle process that you are using at this very Zimprich, Van Boxtel, and Jolles (2008) stated that the CFQ items
moment. In simple word mindfulness means bringing one's complete load on three different factors; forgetfulness, Distractibility and
attention to the present experience on a moment to moment basis. False Triggering. Forgetfulness, means failure to retrieve
The meditation technique called vipassana (insight) that was information. Distractibility refers to the extent to which one is
introduced by the Buddha about the twenty five years ago is a set of distracted by one's environment. Means the ease with which a
mental activities specifically aimed at experiencing a state of person's concentration can be interfered with by External or internal
uninterrupted mindfulness. Mindfulness emphasis on paying stimulation. False Triggering means interrupted processing of
attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and sequences of cognitive and motor actions.
non-judgmentally. It is a kind of non-elaborative, non-judgmental,
present centered awareness in which each thought, feeling or
Mindfulness and cognitive failure
sensation that arise in the attentional field is acknowledged accepted Bishop et al. (2004) and Moore and Malinowski (2009)
as it is. Mindfulness is the active cognitive process of being attentive demonstrated that mindfulness can stimulate sustained attention,
and aware to one's thoughts, emotions, and experience of the present cognitive flexibility, situational awareness and better metacognitive
moment without judgment or reactance (Bishop, Lau, Shapiro, skills. Gomez (2013) Studies have shown that mindfulness can
Carlson, Anderson, Carmody, & Devins, 2004). It takes place here improve safety behavior for several reasons. Mindfulness workers
and now. The practice of mindfulness increased information are more likely to avoid cognitive failure while the involuntary
processing speed, cognitive flexibility, attentional functioning. lapse, inattention or lack of mindfulness about ones circumstances
and surroundings are the main cause of accident is. Other benefits of
Correspondence should be sent to Surjeet Singh mindfulness practice include increased information processing
Research Scholar, Department of Psychology speed, flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental
Maharshi Dayanand University clarity, emotional intelligence and mental health (Brown, Ryan, &
Rohtak, Haryana Creswell, 2007). The improvements in attention that have been
SINGH AND SHARMA/ STUDY OF MINDFULNESS AND COGNITIVE FAILURE AMONG YOUNG ADULTS 416

demonstrated with mindfulness is also likely benefit memory. may be positively correlated with Working Memory. Hoffman,
Attention is an important component of encoding and recall, which Sawyer, Witt and Oh (2010) stated that mindfulness leads to
supports working memory in complex tasks such as learning and increased positive affect and decreased anxiety and negative affect.
comprehension (Chiesa, Calati, & Serretti, 2011). Reaction time was thought to represent emotional interference with
Riggs, Black, and Ritt-Olson (2014) exhibited in their study that the categorization task. Meditation experience was inversely related
mindfulness was significantly associated with a latent factor of self- to emotional interference when we face unpleasant stimulus.
reported Executive function including inhibitory control, working Above research literature explained the benefits of mindfulness
memory, and cognitive flexibility. The study of dispositional especially in relation to cognitive aspects. In fact, mindfulness has
mindfulness in the context of Mindfulness-Based Interventions been proposed as a common factor in psychotherapy (Martin, 1997).
(MBI) like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Theorized benefits of mindfulness are objectivity, affect tolerance
Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is effectively (Fulton, 2005) self-control (Masicampo & Baumeister, 2007). The
growing, Implications of these current findings possibly extend to sense of mindfulness provides ability to relate to others and one's
teaching mindfulness practices in modern busy life, to enhance the self with kindness, acceptance, and compassion, better
disposition of mindfulness or improve mental health and cognitive psychological well-being, decreased task effort, and having fewer
skill measures. thoughts that are unrelated to the task at hand (Walsh & Shapiro,
Nehra, Sharma, Kumar, and Nehra (2012a, b, 2013a, b; 2014) 2006). Other benefits of mindfulness practice include increased
demonstrated that psychological stress reduction programs based on information processing speed, flexibility, equanimity, improved
mindfulness (MBSR) are useful and effective interventions in concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and mental
improving patients' quality of life and to reduce psychological health (Brown et al., 2007).
distress (Stress, Anxiety, or Depression). McKim (2008) evaluated In the light of previous research review the present study
an Eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) hypotheses that there is adverse relationship between Mindfulness
intervention on a community sample that experienced ongoing and cognitive failure. The focus of the present study is to better
anxiety, depression, and/or chronic pain. Participants who Followed understand the relationship between Mindfulness and Cognitive
MBSR program participants, had reported significantly high scores failure (& its main facets; Forgetfulness, Distractibility & false
on self-reported mindfulness and significantly low scores on self- triggering).
reported rumination, psychological distress, depression, anxiety, and
physical illness. In precise Mindfulness scores significantly
Objectives of the study
predicted low level of anxiety, rumination, medical symptoms, and ● To examine the relationship between mindfulness and cognitive
psychological distress. Furthermore, the relationship between failures.
mindfulness and depression was significantly mediated by decreased ● To assess the gender differences on mindfulness.
rumination. Cahn and Polich (2009) assessed the reactions of ● To assess the gender differences on cognitive failures.
subjects who were very experienced mindfulness meditators to
distracting stimuli. Findings revealed that while in a meditative state, Hypotheses of the study
practitioners displayed minimal emotional and cognitive reactivity To achieve these objectives following hypothesis were formulated.
to distracting stimuli. These findings support the notion that ● Mindfulness would be negative correlated to Cognitive failure
mindfulness contributes to decreased reactivity. Thus emotional (forgetfulness, Distractibility & False Triggering) among young
reactivity negatively correlated with mindfulness meditation. Moore adults.
and Malinowski (2009) examined the effect of mindfulness on ● Males (n=40) would be high on mindfulness as compared to
cognitive ability; the people who had higher self-reported females (n=40).
mindfulness had significantly better performance on all measures of
● Males would be low on Cognitive failure (forgetfulness,
attention and. Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported
Distractibility, & False Triggering) as compared to females.
mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and
attentional functioning. Corcoran, Farb, Anderson, and Segal (2010) Research design
demonstrated that mindfulness enhance metacognitive awareness, A correlational design followed by comparison between gender on
attentional capacities and it decreases rumination from preservative males and females.
cognitive activities through gains in working memory; these
cognitive gains contribute to effective emotion regulation strategies. Method
Jha, Stanley, Kiyonaga, Wong, and Gelfand (2010) examined
working memory capacity and emotional experience among military Participants
persons. They were observed in a highly stressful redeployment Purposive sample of 80 young adults of both genders were selected
period. The study revealed that non-meditating military group from the colleges, the University and the surrounding area (40 males
displayed decreased working memory capacity over time whereas & 40 females), with ages ranging from 18 to 30.
working memory capacity among non-meditating civilians was
stable across time. Within the meditation military group, meditation Instruments
practice increased working memory capacity, directly related to self- For the purpose of present research paper, following tools were
reported positive affect and inversely related to self-reported used:
negative affect. These findings suggest that adequate mindfulness The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) (Brown & Ryan,
meditation practice may enhance working memory capacity and 2003) the construct of Mindfulness was assessed in dispositional
decrease cognitive failure and thus, study concludes mindfulness terms by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), a 15-item
417 Indian Journal of Positive Psychology 2017, 8(3), 415-419

self-report instrument. The 15 items are each rated on a six-point mindfulness among young adults as the obtained mean score is
Likert scale from 1 (almost always) to 6 (almost never). An example above average (52.50). Further obtained mean score on cognitive
item is “It seems I am running on automatic without much awareness failure is falling below the average (50) and on each dimension of
of what I'm doing”. Sound psychometrics has been found for the cognitive failure too (16).
MAAS with Cronbach Alpha coefficients ranging over several
Table 2: Intercorrelation matrices
studies from 0.86 to 0.92 (Brown & Ryan, 2013). The scale has been
validated with college students, working adults and cancer patient Variables 1 2 3 4 5
populations. Mindfulness 1 -
The Cognitive Failures Questionnaire: The Cognitive Failures Cognitive Failure 2 -.740** -
Questionnaire (CFQ; Broadbent et al., 1982) has 25 items and was Forgetfulness 3 -.667** .797** -
developed to assess a person's likelihood of committing an error in Distractibility 4 -.724** .881** .640**
perception, memory (Blenders & Name), and motor function in the False Triggering 5 -.736** .818** .783** .724** -
completion of everyday tasks. Some sample items include: “Do you
**significant at 0.01 level
find you forget people's names?” and “Do you daydream when you
ought to be listening to something?” Items were rated using a 5- Intercorrelation matrices (Table 2) shows that mindfulness a
point Likert scale that indicated how often each item was true for positive construct is negatively correlated with overall cognitive
the individual (e.g., 0 = never & 4 = Very often). Higher scores failure (r=-.740; p ≤ .01) which is highly significant.
indicated more cognitive failures, while lower scores indicate less Further obtained correlation values between mindfulness and
cognitive failures. Validation studies have found strong each dimension of cognitive failure i.e. for forgetfulness,
relationships between lack of attentiveness and cognitive errors. distractibility and false triggering (r = -.667, r = -.724, r = -.736
(Wallace & Chen, 2005). respectively) are significant in negative direction. Intercorrelation
among various dimension of cognitive failure ranges from .640 to
Procedure
.881. Hence on the bases of pertinent correlation has been
The study was conducted on 80 young adults. Each participants was accepted.
contacted individually and in a group. They clearly informed about The study showed that there is a significant negative relationship
the purpose of the study. After establishing the rapport with the between cognitive failures and mindfulness, indicating that the
participant/s, questionnaires were administered to each participants. higher the mindfulness scores the lower the cognitive failure scores.
Participants completed Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS) Mindful individuals, as compared to those who are less mindful,
and Cognitive Failures Questionnaire (CFQ). After scoring data have a heightened awareness of their cognitions and future
were analyzed by using SPSS software. behaviors, yielding greater insight into the antecedents of behavior.
Mindful people may have greater conscious awareness of their
Results and discussion cognitive and behavioral scripts in the present, it follows that they
The present study highlights the role of mindfulness and cognitive might have higher Executive Function proficiency.
failure among young adults; for the purpose descriptive statistics has This result supported by the research by Carriere, Cheyne, and
been applied. Further Pearson product moment correlation was Smilek (2008) which modeled a link between mindfulness and
calculated followed by t-test to assess the gender differences on attention related cognitive failures and by Mrazek, Smallwood, and
mindfulness and cognitive failure among young adults. Schooler (2012) which demonstrated a negative correlation between
Table 1: Descriptive statistics mean, SD of young adults MAAS scores and mind-wandering (& that mindfulness exercises
reduced mind-wandering). Indeed, similar results were obtained by
Variables Mean S.D. Hendron (2008) who found a significant negative correlation
Mindfulness 59.96 14.42 between the CFQ and another mindfulness scale created by Brown
Cognitive Failure 35.48 14.14 and Ryan (2003). Klockner and Richard (2015) studied the
Forgetfulness 11.54 05.03 Cognitive Failures, Mindfulness and big five factors of personality
Distractibility 13.08 06.06 at work and demonstrated the negative correlation between
False Triggering 09.33 04.74 mindfulness and all four of the facets of cognitive failures (memory
destructions, blunders & names) as well as in the total score on
Table 1 exhibits the descriptive statistics for mindfulness for cognitive failure.
which obtained mean value is 59.96 (SD= 14.42) with the score
A significant negative correlation has been obtained between the
range from 45.54 to 74.38. Similarly obtained Mean value of
mindfulness scores and the Distractibility scores (see Table 2).
cognitive failure is 35.48 (SD=14.14) with the score range from
Mindfulness reduces the extent to which one is distracted by one's
21.34 to 49.62 further each
environment (distractibility). This finding is consistent with a
Dimension of cognitive failure were taken in to account including previous research reporting a negative relationship between
Forgetfulness, Distractibility, False Triggering. On Forgetfulness mindfulness and distraction; in which Gorbovskaya, Park, and Kim
Mean value is 11.54 (SD= 5.03) with the score range from 6.51 to (2014) found that the participants who scored higher on the
16.57. Obtained Mean value of Distractibility is 13.08 (SD=6.06) mindfulness, the less time they complete their task with distractions
with the score range from 7.02 to 20.2; whereas on False triggering (i.e., successfully ignoring distractions). These types of results are
Mean value is 9.33 (SD=4.74) with the score range from 4.59 to expected, as people who practice mindfulness meditation have
14.07. performed better on sustained attention tasks than non-
Hence the descriptive statistics highlights the significance of practitioners.
SINGH AND SHARMA/ STUDY OF MINDFULNESS AND COGNITIVE FAILURE AMONG YOUNG ADULTS 418

Table 3: t-test of mean differences between males and females


Variables Gender n Mean S.D. t-value Sig. (2-tailed)
Mindfulness Male 40 63.33 12.08 2.13* .04
Female 40 56.60 15.87
Cognitive Failure Male 40 32.28 12.19 2.06* .04
Female 40 38.68 15.35
Forgetfulness Male 40 10.38 04.66 2.11* .04
Female 40 12.70 05.18
Distractibility Male 40 11.90 05.57 1.76 .08
Female 40 14.25 06.37
False Triggering Male 40 07.88 03.90 2.86* .01
Female 40 10.78 05.09
*significant at 0.05 level.

Mean deference in Table 3 reveals that males were found high on to the growing body of research that suggests that mindfulness can
mindfulness (t= 2.13; p ≤ 0.04). Results revealed significant gender reduce the forgetfulness, distractibility and false triggering and
difference among adults on mindfulness disposition. We found that improve attention and concentration. It seems that the emphasis on
males are high on mindfulness than the females. Other studies, also the value of mindfulness training and interventions would be
consistent with the present study, Nolen Hoeksema, Larson, and supported by the results of the present study, as increased
Grayson (1999) and (Tamres & Helgeson, 2002) have found mindfulness skills and responses are associated with decreased
significant gender difference on mindfulness. This may be explained errors. This assumes that mindfulness is at least partly a state-based,
by the fact that females ruminate on negative feelings more than developable skill and not simply a trait that is less open to change.
males, As mindfulness involves paying attention to both positive and
negative stimuli, females may experience more difficulty being Implication of the study
mindful than males. Males were found to have significantly higher The present study found that individuals with higher dispositional
mindfulness scores than females on the awareness and non-reactivity mindfulness reported less distractibility, forgetfulness, and false
subscales (Slonim, Kienhuis, Benedetto, & Reece, 2015). Whereas triggering, have high cognitive flexibility and better attentional
males are found low on overall cognitive failure (t= -2.06; p ≤ 0.04) functioning. Researches showed that Mindfulness meditation
and two out of three dimension of cognitive failure that is practice and self-reported mindfulness enhance focused attention,
forgetfulness (t= -2.11, p ≤ 0.04) and false triggering (t= -2.86, p ≤ have positive effects on working memory and focused attention
0.04). The finding in of the study revealed that males are low on tasks, Reduced rumination, Stress, emotional reactivity, Boosts to
overall cognitive failure, is consistent with the study by Hood, working memory, increase information processing speed. More
MacLachlan, and Fisher (1987) which found that females scored cognitive flexibility and predicts relationship satisfaction.
significantly higher rate of cognitive failures than males. In later Mindfulness developing Intervention programs should be follow to
stage cognitive failure coupled with stress may result in maintain health. Dispositional mindfulness should be focused in
psychological disturbance in female. health care programs. Future studies would need to explore creative
In the present study it has been found that females are high on measures of dispositional mindfulness using qualitative,
forgetfulness as comparison to males, or in other words it could be neurobiological, and psychometric approaches. The field of
said that females report memory complaints more often than males. psychology could benefited from future research examining
The findings of present study are also in line with the study by dispositional mindfulness as an important psychological construct
Palermo, Cinelli, Piccardi, Ciurli, Incoccia, Zompanti, and Guariglia that promoting Health and well-being.
(2015) which stated that women are better at remembering to
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