ATTACHMENT SECURITY AS THE SOCIAL FOUNDATION OF MINDFULNESS: AN EXPLORATION INTO THE POTENTIAL MEDIATING ROLE OF DIALECTICAL THINKING
Wang, David 1977-
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A substantial and growing base of empirical research on the construct of mindfulness attests to its relationship with a variety of measures of psychological well-being as well as its effectiveness as a treatment for a growing number of mental disorders. However, little is known concerning the social and/or psychological antecedents that hinder or support its development (Brown & Ryan, 2003). In response to this gap of knowledge, Shaver et al. (2007) conjectured that attachment security serves as the social foundation of mindfulness, citing several studies whose findings indicate that the two constructs share similar precursors, correlates, and outcomes (e.g., lower stress reactivity, improved mental and physical health, greater relationship satisfaction). Following Shaver et al.’s (2007) understanding of attachment security as the social foundation of mindfulness, this present study sought to shed light on the mediating processes which facilitate the internalization, identification, and integration of prior experiences with attachment figures into dispositional mindfulness by inviting a sample of University of Houston undergraduate students to complete measures of these constructs as well as measures of dialectical thinking. Structural equation modeling was used to explore the potential role of dialectical thinking, an indicator of cognitive flexibility drawn from East Asian philosophy and religious traditions, in mediating the relationship between attachment security and mindfulness. Because individuals who are securely attached have already demonstrated some level of success synthesizing their dialectical needs for interrelatedness and autonomy, it was anticipated that these individuals inherently possessed an enhanced capacity for dialectical thinking. More specifically, I hypothesized that securely attached individuals should be more mindful than their less secure peers in part because they more readily identify and accept the paradoxical, fluid, and inter-related nature of human experience. Results from statistical analysis indicated that dialectical thinking did not significantly mediate the relationship between attachment security and mindfulness. Rather, analysis of an alternative structural model indicated that attachment security significantly mediated the relationship between dialectical thinking and mindfulness. Implications of these results for both clinical practice and future research concluded this study.