Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Kirk Warren Brown, PhD


The social and emotional lives of people are highly interdependent. Incipient evidence suggests that attention may also play an essential role in determining one’s social and emotional well-being. Mindfulness, as a manner of attending, entails greater moment-to-moment awareness to internal and external events, and is thought to have both intra- and inter-personal benefits. Here a study of mindfulness training (MT) examined whether training mindful attention would improve emotion regulation in social contexts as indexed by neural, behavioral, and experience sampling measures. More specifically, 60 participants in romantic relationships were randomly assigned to either four brief (20 min.) MT sessions or a structurally-equivalent control procedure. Romantic partners of these participants also completed questionnaires and experience sampling measures. Findings across the variety of measures supported hypotheses that MT would benefit social emotion regulation. Relative to control participants, those in MT demonstrated greater early attention to facial expressions on an Emotional Go/No-Go task, as indexed by the N200, a neural marker of conflict monitoring. Response time and accuracy during this task revealed more sustained efficient discrimination of facial expressions for MT participants. During day-to-day social interactions, MT participants reported more positive and less negative emotion as well as less negative emotion lability from one interaction to the next. A mediation analysis found improved accuracy on the Emotional Go/No-Go task mediated the relation between MT and more positive emotion during daily social interactions. Given that social emotion regulation places unique demands on attention for which mindfulness appears well-suited, research on both topics can build from these findings to better understand both intra- and inter-personal benefits of MT.


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