Date of Award

January 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

John-Paul Legerski


Mindfulness has been associated with various benefits, including enhanced cognitive performance and disengagement from problematic emotions. Previous research has indicated that engaging in a brief mindfulness exercise may enhance performance on the Color Word Stroop, neutral Stroop, and emotional Stroop. Participants in the current study were 201 students (139 female), mean age 19.7 years (SD=1.4) from a Midwestern university, who were randomly assigned to listen to a 9- minute mindfulness exercise, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) exercise, or interview control condition before completing the Color-Word Stroop, Neutral Stroop, and Emotional Stroop. Preliminary analysis reveal that participants generally had positive attitudes toward mindfulness and many had experience engaging in mindfulness activities. Attitudes and mindfulness experience were correlated with trait mindfulness, however, the brief mindfulness exercise did not appear to induce changes in state mindfulness and heart rate among participants in the mindfulness group. There were no differences between conditions with regard to accuracy on all color-word Stroop, neutral Stroop, and emotional Stroop tasks. Additionally, no differences were found for reaction time on incongruent, neutral, and emotional Stroop tasks. However, participants in the PMR group had slower reaction times on both the congruent and control trials on the Color-Word Stroop. The PMR group members experienced a greater decrease in distress and smaller increase in negative emotions compared to participants in the other conditions. There were no group

differences in changes in positive affect. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.