This study investigated whether a brief mindfulness intervention influenced dysphoric participants’ appraisals of ambiguous facial expressions of emotion. Previous research suggests dysphoric individuals display a negativity bias, or a propensity to view ambiguous information as more negative, which may contribute to the development of clinical depressive disorders. Recent evidence suggests that mindfulness may mitigate this effect; however, the impact of mindfulness on socially relevant appraisals of ambiguous emotional expressions remains unknown. In the present study, 64 participants (36 without dysphoria, 28 with dysphoria) rated the relative emotional valence of six ambiguous facial expressions after listening to either a 19-minute mindfulness recording or a 19-minute excerpt from The Hobbit audiobook. The dysphoric participants who received the mindfulness meditation showed a marginally significant tendency to rate the ambiguous facial expressions as more positive than the dysphoric group in the control condition. The results provide tentative support for the hypothesis that a brief mindfulness intervention is capable of reducing dysphoric individuals’ negativity bias for ambiguous facial expressions. However, the effects of the brief mindfulness intervention were transient and had largely dissipated by the time participants had completed the study. Thus, brief mindfulness meditation interventions may be of limited practical benefit, although more enduring changes in negativity bias might result from longer term, therapeutic mindfulness interventions. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.
Dowling, Kevin, "The Effects of a Brief Mindfulness Intervention on Negativity Bias for Ambiguous Facial Expressions" (2016). Psychology Honors Projects. 46.
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