Date of Award

Summer 7-31-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

School

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Randolph Arnau

Committee Chair School

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Bradley Green

Committee Member 2 School

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Joye Anestis

Committee Member 3 School

Psychology

Committee Member 4

Dr. Donald Sacco

Committee Member 4 School

Psychology

Abstract

Gratitude is a unique emotion characterized by the propensity to be thankful and appreciative for the positive aspects of one’s life as it stands in the present moment. It has been associated with higher levels of perceived belongingness and perceived social support, as well as psychological wellbeing. Similarly, mindfulness refers to nonjudgmental awareness and acceptance of the reality of the present moment. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase one’s connectivity and sense of cohesion with others. The present study examined whether increasing mindfulness in individuals yielded increased gratitude as well as the mediating effect of gratitude on the relation between mindfulness and wellbeing. A within-subjects design was used in which participants underwent brief, at-home mindfulness training over a ten day period using the empirically-supported smartphone application, Headspace. The Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale was used to measure trait mindfulness across all participants, while the Gratitude Resentment and Appreciation Test measured dispositional gratitude. Ryff’s Psychological Wellbeing Scales measured psychological wellbeing and the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire measured psychological flexibility. A MANOVA was used to evaluate main effects of time (pre-intervention, post-intervention, two-week follow-up) on gratitude, psychological wellbeing, and psychological flexibility. Mediation analysis examined relations between mindfulness, gratitude, psychological flexibility and psychological wellbeing. Results indicated that ten days of training increased gratitude, psychological flexibility, and wellbeing. The relation between mindfulness and psychological wellbeing was fully mediated by gratitude and psychological flexibility, both before and after participants underwent training. Results suggest that mindfulness training can increase individuals’ quality of life and psychological flexibility, in part by increasing their ability to appreciate positive aspects of their lives.

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