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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The role of mindfulness in early adolescent psychological adjustment and well-being Lawlor, Molly Stewart


Within the field of positive psychology, investigations of human potential and well-being have recently focused on mindfulness, a unique quality of consciousness. Mindfulness has been defined as the practice of being aware of one's thoughts and actions in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Investigations of mindfulness have primarily focused on adult populations and have revealed mindfulness to be related to a variety of indicators of well-being such as optimism, positive affect, self-regulation, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. The present study investigated the relationship of mindfulness and well-being within a population of early adolescents. Early adolescence is marked by changes across cognitive, social and biological areas of functioning. Despite improvement of competencies, as children move through early adolescence both their sense of optimism and self-concept decline. Additionally, early adolescents experience more instances of negative affect and fewer instances of positive affect than younger children. Because mindfulness has been found to be related to such constructs of well-being in adults, the question arises, what role mindfulness might play in positive adolescent development and well-being? There are currently no specific instruments designed to assess mindfulness in children or adolescents. As such, we first tested the psychometric properties of a modified version of the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS; Brown & Ryan, 2003; modified by Benn 2004). Scores from the MAAS, along with a battery of wellbeing indicators were analyzed to answer the following 3 questions: 1) Is the modified MAAS a psychometrically sound measure when used with early adolescents? 2) Are there within and between group differences in scores on the MAAS? 3) Do early adolescents display similar relationships between mindfulness and indicators of wellbeing as have been found with adults? Results indicated two important findings. First, the modified MAAS was found to have high internal consistency, a one factor solution and evidence of validity yielding support for its use with early adolescents. Second, mindfulness was found to be related in expected directions to indicators of well-being across the domains of traits and attributes, emotional disturbance, emotional well-being and eudiamonic well-being. Indeed, these findings offer important insight into the role mindfulness may play in early adolescent development.

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