Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on emotional experience and expression: a randomized controlled trial


  • We gratefully acknowledge support from two grants from the Duke University Undergraduate Research Support Office awarded to Shian-Ling Keng. We also thank Anita Lungu, Caroline Cozza, Paul Geiger, Christine Jamieson, and Samantha Lorusso for their assistance in conducting this study and M. Zachary Rosenthal, Moria Smoski, and Kathleen Sikkema for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Andrew Ekblad now is at the Center for Addictions and Mental Health, University of Toronto.


Objectives: Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been found to reduce psychological distress and improve psychological adjustment in medical, psychiatric, and nonclinical samples. We examined its effects on several processes, attitudes, and behavior patterns related to emotion regulation. Design: Fifty-six adults were randomly assigned to MBSR or to a waiting list (WL). Results: Compared with WL completers (n = 21), MBSR completers (n = 20) reported significantly greater increases in trait mindfulness and decreases in absent-mindedness, greater increases in self-compassion, and decreases in fear of emotions, suppression of anger, aggressive anger expression, worry, and difficulties regulating emotions. The WL group subsequently received MBSR, and the two groups combined showed significant changes on all of these variables from pre-MBSR to post-MBSR, and on all except the 2 anger variables from pre-test to 2-month follow-up, as well as significant reductions in rumination. Conclusion: An 8-week mindfulness training program might increase mindful awareness in daily life and have beneficial impact on clinically relevant emotion regulation processes. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Clin Psychol 68:1–15, 2011.