Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


40th Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2014

Event Details

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Symposium #22
CE Offered: BACB
Mind Full or Mindful?: Exploring and Facilitating Mindfulness and Present Moment Processes
Saturday, May 24, 2014
1:00 PM–2:50 PM
W179b (McCormick Place Convention Center)
Area: CBM; Domain: Applied Research
Chair: Emily Allen (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Discussant: Ann Rost (Missouri State University)
CE Instructor: Ann Rost, Ph.D.

Mindfulness is generally defined as the non-judgmental attentive awareness of the present moment. Practicing mindfulness results in significant improvements to both mental and physical well-being, even in small doses. Though mindfulness has its roots in ancient spiritual traditions, it has a number of empirically-supported applications in modern behavior therapy and everyday life. The development of assessment and intervention methodologies, however, remains in early stages. The papers in this symposium aim to contribute to the body of knowledge on mindfulness by exploring the shared perception of mindfulness, the effectiveness and feasibility of interventions on mindfulness, and the impact of mindfulness for effective communication. The first paper will explore the perception of mindfulness in the moment in untrained observers. The second paper will examine the effect of mindfulness training on stress in graduate students. The third paper will explore the effects of a mindfulness meditation intervention on attention in undergraduate students. Finally, the fourth paper will examine the impact of perceived mindfulness on public speaking behaviors. Implications for future research will be discussed.

Keyword(s): Meditation, Observing Mindfulness, Public Speaking, Stress Reduction
Picking up on Presence: Identifying Present Moment Behaviors
EMILY ALLEN (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Stephanie Caldas (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Nick Mollere (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Abstract: Research has indicated that engaging in the present moment in a nonjudgmental or accepting manner is important in valued living, perspective taking and fostering development of empathic responding. Yet, clear publically observable signs indicating that someone is present,have not yet been substantiated. This research aimed to identify if agreement exists among untrained raters in the identification of present moment behaviors of subjects in videos. Undergraduate students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette watched videos and reported when they felt the subject was present, how present they felt while watching the videos, and how connected they felt to the subject of the video. It was hypothesized that there would be an overall agreement in participants’ answers, that participants’ level of self-rated presence would be positively correlated with their ratings of the subjects’ presence, and that the more present the participants self-rate and rate the subject, the more connected they will feel to the subject. Preliminary data suggests that untrained raters are quite capable of identifying behaviors as indicative of presence with a high degree of consistency between raters. Implications of present moment behaviors and future directions will be discussed.
The Effects of Mindfulness Training on Stress in Graduate Students
TESS GELDERLOOS (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology ), Scott A. Herbst (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology), Fawna Stockwell (The Chicago School of Professional Psychology)
Abstract: Stress and issues relating to stress, such as burnout, have been studied in great detail in multiple areas of psychology. However, the topic of stress has been largely ignored by behavior analysis. This study examined the effect of mindfulness training on stress in graduate students. The research design was an alternating treatments design in which completion of a brief mindfulness audio training was alternated with an educational audio clip each session. After listening to the audio clip participants were then given puzzles to complete in three minutes. The data suggest that mindfulness training did not have a noticeable impact on heart rate or on self reported levels of stress. This research was not consistent with previous research showing an effect of mindfulness training; however, those studies involved longer training sessions of weeks or months of mindfulness training (e.g., Bond & Bunce 2000; Evans, Ferrando, Carr, & Halgin, 2011). Future research is suggested to investigate mindfulness, as well as other stress reduction techniques, at the individual level.
Surviving Undergrad: What Can Meditation Do?
MATTHEW WILLIAMS (University of Mississippi), Solomon Kurz (University of Mississippi), Kate Kellum (University of Mississippi), Kelly G. Wilson (University of Mississippi)
Abstract: The word is out; mindfulness meditation can help a wide variety of practitioners to ameliorate a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from coping with cancer to reducing substance abuse. One of the proposed benefits of mindfulness meditation is increased attention. To date, few studies have been designed to examine whether these expected increases in attention will indeed show up in attention-related performance tests. The few published studies that have examined this show mixed results and many had undesirable limitations such as low power and cross-sectional designs. In this paper, we present a 3-week mindfulness meditation intervention for college undergraduates during which participants performed computer performance tasks. Three conditions varied by how much in-session meditation participants performed. Computer task performance was within and between conditions across the three weeks. Longer-term effects on college GPA and mood are also presented.
Presenting with Presence: An Examination of Shared Presence and Effective Communication in the Context of Public Speaking
KRISTIAN LAGRANGE (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Stephanie Caldas (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Ashlyne Mullen (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), Emily Kennison Sandoz (University of Louisiana at Lafayette)
Abstract: Public speaking is amongst the most terrifying and avoided experiences we humans encounter. Despite having full mastery of all the behaviors necessary to communicate effectively, many of us struggle to bring that repertoire to bear when faced with a public audience. The result is often avoidance. And when public speaking is requisite, that avoidance takes covert forms. There is, however, an alternative. Being present, or mindfully and openly aware, allows for increased sensitivity to audience feedback and overall better presenting. As a result, audiences may find themselves more engaged. The current study will examine how present moment processes contribute to effective communication in the context of public speaking. Audience and speaker ratings of presence will be compared, along with how convergence of perceptions of presence between speaker and audience predict aspects of communication effectiveness. In addition, speaker presence will be considered as a predictor of audience presence. Preliminary data suggests overall convergence of present moment ratings as well as shared presence predicts communication effectiveness in public speaking. Implications for intervention development and application to other kinds of communication will be discussed.



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