Mindful individuals less affected by immediate rewards

November 1, 2013
Ph.D. candidate Rimma Teper administers a test on a study participant. Credit: Ken Jones

A new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough shows that people who are aware of and their own thoughts and emotions are less affected by positive feedback from others.

The study, authored by UTSC PhD candidate Rimma Teper, finds that individuals high in trait mindfulness show less to than their less mindful peers.

"These findings suggest that mindful individuals may be less affected by immediate rewards and fits well with the idea that mindful individuals are typically less impulsive" says Teper.

Trait mindfulness is characterized by an ability to recognize and accept one's thoughts and emotions without judgment. Mindful individuals are much better at letting their feelings and thoughts go rather than getting carried away.

Using electroencephalography (EEG) the brain activity of participants was recorded while they completed a reaction time task on a computer. The authors were interested in participants' in response to receiving performance that was rewarding, neutral or negative in nature. Not only were mindful individuals less responsive to rewarding feedback compared to others, they also showed less difference in their neural response to neutral versus rewarding feedback.

The findings also reflect further clinical research that supports the notion of accepting one's emotions is an important indicator of mental well-being.

"Individuals who are for instance show more brain reactivity to immediate rewards, because they are typically more impulsive," says Teper.

"Many studies, including our own past work, have shown that people who meditate, and mindful individuals exhibit improved self-control. If mindful individuals are also less affected by immediate rewards, as our study suggests, this may help explain why," says Teper's PhD supervisor and UTSC psychology professor Michael Inzlicht.

The research was published this week in the journal Emotion.

Explore further: Better living through mindfulness: Study connects traits of mindfulness to emotional well-being

Related Stories

Mindfulness training beneficial for clinicians, patients

September 12, 2013

(HealthDay)—Mindfulness training is associated with improvements in physician burnout; and, clinicians who rate themselves as more mindful engage in more patient-centered communication, according to two studies published ...

Recommended for you

Feeling bad has academic benefits, research says

November 30, 2016

For some, the start of December marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. But for most university students, the coming weeks mean final exams, mounting stress and negative moods.

Preschoolers' expectations shape how they interpret speech

November 30, 2016

When we listen to people speak, we aren't just hearing the sounds they're making, we're also actively trying to infer what they're going to say. Someone might misspeak, forget a word, or be drowned out by background noise, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.