Does Trait Mindfulness Moderate the Effect of Stress on Executive Control?
Stress can impair one’s ability to effectively problem solve and think critically. This study tested the extent to which trait mindfulness moderated the relation between stress and executive control (EC). Participants were 112 college students (Meanage = 19; SD = 1.1) participating in research for credit. At the first session (Time 1), we assessed trait level mindfulness, current depressive symptoms, and EC using an emotional n-back task. At the second session, a week later, we assessed EC again following a stress induction task. Participants were randomized to either a high or low stress condition. Finally, participants again completed the measure of depressive symptoms at the follow-up assessment conducted during the week of finals. We hypothesized that higher levels of mindfulness would predict better performance on the post-stress EC task and lower levels of depressive symptoms at follow-up. Results indicated, however, that trait mindfulness did not predict performance on the EC task or follow-up depression scores. Limitations of the study, particularly the small sample size, are discussed.