Date Approved

2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Member

Tamara Loverich, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Karen Saules, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eamonn Arble, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Angela West, Ph.D.

Abstract

Introduction: Significant debate exists over the conceptualization of mindfulness even though mindfulness-based interventions are widely utilized to treat obesity and problematic eating behaviors. Little research has directly compared these theorized components of mindfulness in the context of eating. The purpose of the current study was to understand the relative importance of two components of mindfulness (i.e., awareness and acceptance) on laboratory eating outcomes. Methods: An experiment was conducted with 103 obese participants (Mage = 22.38, SD = 6.82; 64.1% female, 44.6% White, MBMI = 35.42, SD = 7.68) comparing two mindful eating inductions (i.e., awareness only and awareness+acceptance) to a control condition on taste satisfaction, total caloric intake, and ratio of healthy to unhealthy foods eaten. Results: The conditions did not significantly differ in taste satisfaction, total caloric intake, or ratio of healthy to unhealthy foods eaten after controlling for hunger prior to the experiment and previous preference for the foods used in the study. Participants in the awareness only and awareness+acceptance condition reported significantly greater mindful eating awareness following the intervention compared to the control condition. Contrary to our hypotheses, participants in the control condition reported a significantly higher level of mindful eating acceptance compared to the awareness only condition, while those in the awareness+acceptance condition did not significantly differ from either of the other two conditions. Conclusions: While brief mindful eating inductions effectively increased awareness while eating, they did not alter acceptance, and these inductions did not translate to effective behavior change in the laboratory. Our sample was more diverse and had greater prior casual exposure to mindfulness than previous samples in research on mindful eating, suggesting that these inductions may not be as effective in unique populations and further research is warranted. Manipulating and measuring acceptance in mindful eating inductions is challenging and requires further research.

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