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Psychological Assessment - Vol 28, Iss 7

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Psychological Assessment Psychological Assessment publishes mainly empirical articles concerning clinical assessment. Papers that fall within the domain of the journal include research on the development, validation, application, and evaluation of psychological assessment instruments. Diverse modalities (e.g., cognitive, physiologic, and motoric) and methods of assessment (e.g., questionnaires, interviews, natural environment and analog environment observation, self-monitoring, participant observation, physiological measurement, instrument-assisted and computer-assisted assessment) are within the domain of the journal, especially as they relate to clinical assessment. Also included are topics on clinical judgment and decision making (including diagnostic assessment), methods of measurement of treatment process and outcome, and dimensions of individual differences (e.g., race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, economic status) as they relate to clinical assessment.
Copyright 2016 American Psychological Association
  • Assessment of mindfulness and closely related constructs: Introduction to the special issue.
    This article introduces this special issue on the assessment of mindfulness and other related constructs. The need for refinements in self-report methods and the development of more objective performance-based methods for mindfulness is widely recognized. The six articles in this special issue move the field in these directions. Three of the articles expand the understanding of self-report instruments; the other three describe promising laboratory-based tasks. The articles here show that the assessment of mindfulness and related variables is an active and productive area, with interesting new findings emerging at a high rate. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Examining the factor structure of the 39-item and 15-item versions of the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire before and after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for people with recurrent depression.
    Research into the effectiveness and mechanisms of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) requires reliable and valid measures of mindfulness. The 39-item Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ-39) is a measure of mindfulness commonly used to assess change before and after MBIs. However, the stability and invariance of the FFMQ factor structure have not yet been tested before and after an MBI; pre to post comparisons may not be valid if the structure changes over this period. Our primary aim was to examine the factor structure of the FFMQ-39 before and after mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in adults with recurrent depression in remission using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Additionally, we examined whether the factor structure of the 15-item version (FFMQ-15) was consistent with that of the FFMQ-39, and whether it was stable over MBCT. Our secondary aim was to assess the general psychometric properties of both versions. CFAs showed that pre-MBCT, a 4-factor hierarchical model (excluding the “observing” facet) best fit the FFMQ-39 and FFMQ-15 data, whereas post-MBCT, a 5-factor hierarchical model best fit the data for both versions. Configural invariance across the time points was not supported for both versions. Internal consistency and sensitivity to change were adequate for both versions. Both FFMQ versions did not differ significantly from each other in terms of convergent validity. Researchers should consider excluding the Observing subscale from comparisons of total scale/subscale scores before and after mindfulness interventions. Current findings support the use of the FFMQ-15 as an alternative measure in research where briefer forms are needed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Meta-analytic evidence for effects of mindfulness training on dimensions of self-reported dispositional mindfulness.
    Improvements in stable, or dispositional, mindfulness are often assumed to accrue from mindfulness training and to account for many of its beneficial effects. However, research examining these assumptions has produced mixed findings, and the relation between dispositional mindfulness and mindfulness training is actively debated. A comprehensive meta-analysis was conducted on randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of mindfulness training published from 2003–2014 to investigate whether (a) different self-reported mindfulness scale dimensions change as a result of mindfulness training, (b) key aspects of study design (e.g., control condition type, population type, and intervention type) moderate training-related changes in dispositional mindfulness scale dimensions, and (c) changes in mindfulness scale dimensions are associated with beneficial changes in mental health outcomes. Scales from widely used dispositional mindfulness measures were combined into 5 categories for analysis: Attention, Description, Nonjudgment, Nonreactivity, and Observation. A total of 88 studies (n = 5,787) were included. Changes in scale dimensions of mindfulness from pre to post mindfulness training produced mean difference effect sizes ranging from small to moderate (g = 0.28–0.49). Consistent with the theorized role of improvements in mindfulness in training outcomes, changes in dispositional mindfulness scale dimensions were moderately correlated with beneficial intervention outcomes (r = .27–0.30), except for the Observation dimension (r = .16). Overall, moderation analyses revealed inconsistent results, and limitations of moderator analyses suggest important directions for future research. We discuss how the findings can inform the next generation of mindfulness assessment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Nonattachment and mindfulness: Related but distinct constructs.
    In this study, we examined whether nonattachment, a relatively new construct in the mindfulness literature, showed convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity in relation to the well-studied 5 facets of mindfulness. Mindfulness was defined as a multifaceted construct including observing, describing, acting with awareness, nonjudging, and nonreactivity; and measured using the recently validated, 20-item Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ; Tran, Glück, & Nader, 2013; Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006). Nonattachment was defined as a flexible, balanced way of relating to one’s experiences without clinging to or suppressing them, and measured using the 7-item Nonattachment Scale (NAS-7; Elphinstone, Sahdra, & Ciarrochi, 2015; Sahdra, Shaver, & Brown, 2015). In a large nationally representative sample of Americans (N = 7,884; 52% women; age, M = 47.9, SD = 16), nonattachment was positively related to all 5 aspects of mindfulness. Structural equation modeling showed that the 20-item FFMQ and NAS-7 showed good fit; their factor structures were invariant across genders and age groups; and NAS-7 was empirically distinguishable from the 5 mindfulness facets. Hierarchical regression models provided evidence of the incremental validity of NAS-7. Finally, mediation models showed that nonattachment substantially mediated the links between the mindfulness facets and the outcome variables of satisfaction with life and life effectiveness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Meditation Breath Attention Scores (MBAS): Development and investigation of an internet-based assessment of focused attention during meditation practice.
    Meditation Breath Attention Scores (MBAS) represent a self-report, state measure of focused attention (FA) during the practice of meditation. The MBAS assessment procedure involves sounding a bell at periodic intervals during meditation practice, at which times participants indicate if they were attending toward breathing (scored 1) or if instead they had become distracted (e.g., by mind wandering; scored 0); scores are then tallied to yield participants’ MBAS for that meditation. The current study developed and evaluated a fully automated and Internet-based version of MBAS in 1,101 volunteers. Results suggested that: (a) MBAS are internally consistent across bell rings; (b) MBAS total scores exhibit a non-normal distribution identifying subgroups of participants with particularly poor or robust FA during meditation; (c) MBAS decrease linearly with the duration of meditation practices, indicating that participants tend to experience less FA later as opposed to earlier in the meditation; (d) in the case of eyes-open meditation, MBAS are higher when the amount of time between bells is shorter; (e) MBAS correlate with various self-reported subjective experiences occurring during meditation; and (f) MBAS are weakly associated with higher trait mindful “acting with awareness,” lesser ADHD-related symptoms of inattentiveness, and estimated minutes of meditation practiced in the past month. In sum, results provide further support for the construct validity of MBAS and serve to further characterize the dynamics of individual differences in FA during meditation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Development of a self-distancing task and initial validation of responses.
    Mindfulness-based interventions are believed to counteract cognitive biases that exacerbate cognitive and physiological reactivity to emotional experiences and that contribute to the development and persistence of psychopathology. One process by which mindful practices may produce such salutary effects is by enhancing the capacity to “decenter”—or to adopt a self-distanced, nonjudgmental perspective on conscious experiences (e.g., thoughts, memories, and feelings). Findings consistently indicate that decentering, assessed via self-report, represents an important aspect of mental health and well-being; however, numerous researchers have called for more objective measures of skills associated with mindfulness and decentering to further evaluate the mechanisms and benefits of mindfulness-based practices. Thus, in the current investigation, we developed a behavioral task that requires mental manipulation of negative emotional (and neutral) material away from the self (self-distancing), as a means to assess the skills associated with mindfulness and decentering that likely underlie healthy emotional processing. In 2 nonmeditating, university samples, we found that higher levels of self-reported mindfulness and higher levels of 1 facet of decentering (the capacity to adopt a distanced perspective on experiences) predicted behavioral indicators of self-distancing. Results suggest that the self-distancing task shows considerable promise for capturing skills associated with mindfulness and at least 1 element of decentering. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Experiential self-referential and selfless processing in mindfulness and mental health: Conceptual model and implicit measurement methodology.
    We propose that Experiential Self-Referential Processing (ESRP)—the cognitive association of present moment subjective experience (e.g., sensations, emotions, thoughts) with the self—underlies various forms of maladaptation. We theorize that mindfulness contributes to mental health by engendering Experiential Selfless Processing (ESLP)—processing present moment subjective experience without self-referentiality. To help advance understanding of these processes we aimed to develop an implicit, behavioral measure of ESRP and ESLP of fear, to experimentally validate this measure, and to test the relations between ESRP and ESLP of fear, mindfulness, and key psychobehavioral processes underlying (mal)adaptation. One hundred 38 adults were randomized to 1 of 3 conditions: control, meta-awareness with identification, or meta-awareness with disidentification. We then measured ESRP and ESLP of fear by experimentally eliciting a subjective experience of fear, while concurrently measuring participants’ cognitive association between her/himself and fear by means of a Single Category Implicit Association Test; we refer to this measurement as the Single Experience & Self Implicit Association Test (SES-IAT). We found preliminary experimental and correlational evidence suggesting the fear SES-IAT measures ESLP of fear and 2 forms of ESRP— identification with fear and negative self-referential evaluation of fear. Furthermore, we found evidence that ESRP and ESLP are associated with meta-awareness (a core process of mindfulness), as well as key psychobehavioral processes underlying (mal)adaptation. These findings indicate that the cognitive association of self with experience (i.e., ESRP) may be an important substrate of the sense of self, and an important determinant of mental health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
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