Gray's Behavioral Inhibition System as a mediator of mindfulness towards well-being

Journal Article

By: Harald Walach; S Sauer; Niko Kohls
Publication Name: Personality and Individual Differences
Year: 2011

This study tested whether an accepted psychological theory, Gray’s Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS), is one way to explain how mindfulness leads to feelings of well-being. Mindfulness is a state of mind that allows focusing on the present moment with a non-judgmental or accepting attitude. While mindfulness, which is a goal of Buddhists and many other meditation practices, is thought to be associated with feelings of well-being, there is a lack of neurobiological evidence to explain this connection. The Behavioural Inhibition System is known to create negative emotions, such as anxiety. (BIS may be thought of as similar to the “fight or flight” response.) The current study hypothesized that practicing mindfulness will not only lead to feelings of well-being, but will also lessen the negative effects of BIS.; ; Study results supported these hypotheses by reporting that there was a strong total effect of mindfulness on well-being. The study also found that mindfulness reduced the Behavioural Inhibition System and the negative emotions that go along with it, and that this had a strong indirect effect on well-being. People who practiced mindfulness had higher scores of well-being and lower BIS scores. BIS can therefore be thought of as a “mediator” of mindfulness towards well-being.

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