The effect of brief mindfulness training on momentary impulsivity

Volume 11, January 2019, Pages 15-20

Mark R. Dixon, Dana Paliliunas, Jordan Belisle. Ryan C. Speelman, Karl F. Gunnarsson, and Jordan L. Shaffer

Delay discounting describes the tendency to select smaller-sooner rewards over larger-later rewards, which has been proposed as a behavior analytic model of impulsivity. Framed in this way, impulsivity is problematic because it results in the sub-optimization of rewards and is related to several addictive behaviors. The present study evaluated the efficacy of a brief, 5-min mindfulness exercise on participants’ momentary state impulsivity using a monetary delay discounting questionnaire. Twenty-three participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental (n =  11) or control group (n = 12). Both groups completed delay discounting surveys before and after their respective interventions, where the experimental group watched a brief mindful breathing video and the control group watched a contemporary music video of approximately the same duration. Decreases in impulsive responding were seen in the experimental group and no significant changes were observed in the randomized control group. These results have implications for applying brief mindfulness-based strategies that can reduce the probability of impulsive choice behavior.

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