, Volume 10, Issue 10, pp 2121–2132 | Cite as

Mindfulness, Nonattachment, and the Feeling-Action Relationship

  • Robert J. KleinEmail author
  • Michael D. Robinson



The present research had two objectives. It sought to examine whether traits related to mindful awareness and nonattachment could be distinguished. It also sought to compare both sets of traits with respect to their ability to dissociate relations between feelings and actions.


To examine processes of this type in a fine-grained manner, two studies (total N = 296; 69.93% female; 87.16% Caucasian; M age = 19.13) developed procedures capable of differentiating affective reactions and their intensity from the behaviors that could result from such feelings. In these situation judgment paradigms, participants were first asked to imagine themselves in a series of evocative situations (e.g., a romantic partner cheating on them). For each situation, individuals then rated how intensely they would experience the targeted feeling (e.g., anger) and how likely they would be to engage in a corresponding action (e.g., an aggressive one).


Multilevel analyses of these responses revealed that both mindfulness (Study 1 p = .005; Study 2 p = .045) and nonattachment (Study 1 p < .001; Study 2 p < .001) moderated the feeling-action relationship such that it was less coupled among participants possessing the relevant traits, but this modulatory influence was more robust for nonattachment.


The methods, which build on emotional simulations and multilevel modeling, provide a paradigm for studying reactions to situations as well as feeling-action relationships. Additionally, the results provide insights into both mindfulness and nonattachment and the manner in which they are likely to function within emotional contexts.


Mindfulness Nonattachment Feeling Action Situation Multilevel modeling 


Author Contributions

RJK and MDR designed the study together. RJK performed the data analysis and wrote the paper. MDR revised the paper. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee prior to its implementation. Informed consent was obtained prior to the administration of the questionnaires.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee of North Dakota State University.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Averill, J. R. (1982). Anger and aggression: an essay on emotion. New York: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baer, R. (2016). Assessment of mindfulness and closely related constructs: introduction to the special issue. Psychological Assessment, 28, 787–790.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Berkowitz, L. (1993). Aggression: its causes, consequences, and control. New York: Mcgraw-Hill Book Company.Google Scholar
  5. Bishop, S. R., Lau, M., Shapiro, S., Carlson, L., Anderson, N. D., Carmody, J., et al. (2004). Mindfulness: a proposed operational definition. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 230–241.Google Scholar
  6. Bodhi, B. (2005). In the Buddha’s words: an anthology of discourses from the Pali cannon. Boston: Wisdom Publications.Google Scholar
  7. Bond, F. W., Hayes, S. C., Baer, R. A., Carpenter, K. M., Guenole, N., Orcutt, H. K., et al. (2011). Preliminary psychometric properties of the Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II: a revised measure of psychological inflexibility and experiential avoidance. Behavior Therapy, 42, 676–688.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822–848.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2004). Perils and promise in defining and measuring mindfulness: observations from experience. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 11, 242–248.Google Scholar
  10. Brown, K. W., Ryan, R. M., & Creswell, J. D. (2007). Mindfulness: theoretical foundations and evidence for its salutary effects. Psychological Inquiry, 18, 211–237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1998). On the self-regulation of behavior. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cyders, M. A., & Smith, G. T. (2008). Emotion-based dispositions to rash action: positive and negative urgency. Psychological Bulletin, 134, 807–828.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Desbordes, G., Gard, T., Hoge, E. A., Hölzel, B. K., Kerr, C., Lazar, S. W., et al. (2015). Moving beyond mindfulness: defining equanimity as an outcome measure in meditation and contemplative research. Mindfulness, 6, 356–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Elkins-Brown, N., Teper, R., & Inzlicht, M. (2017). How mindfulness enhances self-control. In J. C. Karremans & E. K. Papies (Eds.), Mindfulness in social psychology (pp. 65–78). New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Enders, C. K., & Tofighi, D. (2007). Centering predictor variables in cross-sectional multilevel models: a new look at an old issue. Psychological Methods, 12, 121–138.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Fehr, B., & Sprecher, S. (2009). Prototype analysis of the concept of compassionate love. Personal Relationships, 16, 343–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Feltman, R., Robinson, M. D., & Ode, S. (2009). Mindfulness as a moderator of neuroticism-outcome relations: a self-regulation perspective. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 953–961.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fresco, D. M., Coles, M. E., Heimberg, R. G., Liebowitz, M. R., Hami, S., Stein, M. B., et al. (2001). The Liebowitz Social Anxiety Scale: a comparison of the psychometric properties of self-report and clinician-administered formats. Psychological Medicine, 31, 1025–1035.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Frijda, N. H. (2010). Impulsive action and motivation. Biological Psychology, 84, 570–579.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Germer, C. K. (2005). Mindfulness: what is it? What does it matter? In C. K. Germer, R. D. Siegel, & P. R. Fulton (Eds.), Mindfulness and psychotherapy (pp. 3–27). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  21. Gross, J. J., & Barrett, L. F. (2011). Emotion generation and emotion regulation: one or two depends on your point of view. Emotion Review, 3, 8–16.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Hayes, S. C. (2002). Buddhism and acceptance and commitment therapy. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9, 58–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Heppner, W. L., Kernis, M. H., Lakey, C. E., Campbell, W. K., Goldman, B. M., Davis, P. J., et al. (2008). Mindfulness as a means of reducing aggressive behavior: dispositional and situational evidence. Aggressive Behavior, 34, 486–496.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Heppner, W. L., Spears, C. A., Vidrine, J. I., & Wetter, D. W. (2015). Mindfulness and emotion regulation. In B. D. Ostafin, M. D. Robinson, & B. P. Meier (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness and self-regulation (pp. 107–120). New York: Springer Science.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Heppner, W. L., Spears, C. A., Correa-Fernandez, V., Castro, Y., Li, Y., Guo, B., et al. (2016). Dispositional mindfulness predicts enhanced smoking cessation and smoking lapse recovery. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 50, 337–347.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. James, W. (1890). The principles of psychology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe living. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell.Google Scholar
  28. Khong, B. S. L. (2009). Expanding the understanding of mindfulness: seeing the tree and the forest. The Humanistic Psychologist, 37, 117–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Krishnakumar, S., & Robinson, M. D. (2015). Maintaining an even keel: an affect-mediated model of mindfulness and hostile work behavior. Emotion, 15, 579–589.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Kuppens, P., Van Mechelen, I., & Rijmen, F. (2008). Toward disentangling sources of individual differences in appraisal and anger. Journal of Personality, 76, 959–1000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Lang, P. J. (1995). The emotion probe: studies of motivation and attention. American Psychologist, 50, 372–385.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Lawrence, C., & Hutchinson, L. (2013). The influence of individual differences in sensitivity to provocations on provoked aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 39, 212–221.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Lindsay, E. K., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Mechanisms of mindfulness training: Monitor and Acceptance Theory (MAT). Clinical Psychology Review, 51, 48–59.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. Marlatt, G. A. (2002). Buddhist philosophy and the treatment of addictive behavior. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 9, 44–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Modinos, G., Ormel, J., & Aleman, A. (2010). Individual differences in dispositional mindfulness and brain activity involved in reappraisal of emotion. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 5, 369–377.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Nezlek, J. B. (2001). Multilevel random coefficient analyses of event- and interval-contingent data in social and personality psychology research. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27, 771–785.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nezlek, J. B. (2012). Multilevel modeling analyses of dairy-style data. In M. R. Mehl & T. S. Conner (Eds.), Handbook of research methods for studying daily life (pp. 357–383). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  38. Niemiec, C. P., Brown, K. W., Kashdan, T. B., Cozzolino, P. J., Breen, W. E., Levesque-Bristol, C., et al. (2010). Being present in the face of existential threat: the role of trait mindfulness in reducing defensive responses to mortality salience. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 99, 344–365.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Ostafin, B. D. (2015). Taming the wild elephant: mindfulness and its role in overcoming automatic mental processes. In B. D. Ostafin, M. D. Robinson, & B. P. Meier (Eds.), Handbook of mindfulness and self-regulation (pp. 47–63). New York: Springer Science.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Parrott, W. G. (2001). Implications of dysfunctional emotions for understanding how emotions function. Review of General Psychology, 5, 180–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Preacher, K. J., Curran, P. J., & Bauer, D. J. (2006). Computational tools for probing interactions in multiple linear regression, multilevel modeling, and latent curve analysis. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 31, 437–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Robinson, M. D. (2007). Lives lived in milliseconds: using cognitive methods in personality research. In R. W. Robins, R. C. Fraley, & R. F. Krueger (Eds.), Handbook of research methods in personality psychology (pp. 345–359). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  43. Romero-Canyas, R., Downey, G., Berenson, K., Ayduk, O., & Kang, N. J. (2010). Rejection sensitivity and the rejection-hostility link in romantic relationships. Journal of Personality, 78, 119–148.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Sahdra, B. K., Shaver, P. R., & Brown, K. W. (2010). A scale to measure nonattachment: a Buddhist complement to western research on attachment and adaptive functioning. Journal of Personality Assessment, 92, 116–127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Sahdra, B., Ciarrochi, J., & Parker, P. (2016). Nonattachment and mindfulness: related but distinct constructs. Psychological Assessment, 28, 819–929.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Scherbaum, C. A., & Ferreter, J. M. (2009). Estimating statistical power and required sample sizes for organizational research using multilevel modeling. Organizational Research Methods, 12, 347–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Shapiro, S. L., Oman, D., Thoresen, C. E., Plante, T. G., & Flinders, T. (2008). Cultivating mindfulness: effects on well-being. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64, 840–862.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  48. Singer, J. D. (1998). Using SAS PROC MIXED to fit multilevel models, hierarchical models, and individual growth models. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 23, 323–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tangney, J. P., Wagner, P. E., Marschall, D., & Gramzow, R. (1991). The Anger Response Inventory (ARI). Fairfax: George Mason University.Google Scholar
  50. Tangney, J. P., Hill-Barlow, D., Wagner, P. E., Marschall, D. E., Borenstein, J. K., Sanftner, J., et al. (1996). Assessing individual differences in constructive versus destructive responses to anger across the lifespan. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 780–796.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Teasdale, J. D., & Chaskalson, M. (2011). How does mindfulness transform suffering? I: THE nature and origins of dukkha. Contemporary Buddhism, 12, 89–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wallace, B. A., & Shapiro, S. L. (2006). Mental balance and well-being: building bridges between Buddhism and Western psychology. American Psychologist, 61, 690–701.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Wilkowski, B. M., & Robinson, M. D. (2008). The cognitive basis of trait anger and reactive aggression: an integrative analysis. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 12, 3–21.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology, NDSU Department 2765North Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA

Personalised recommendations