Listed in Issue 280


KOERTEN and COLLEAGUES, 1 Psychology Department, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, OH, USA examined whether mindfulness with a focus on nonjudgment helps university student perfectionists  recover from failure (measured by heart rate (HR).


Research links perfectionism, the tendency to hold and pursue unrealistically high standards, to negative mental health outcomes such as eating disorders, anxiety, and depression.  Previous research used high frequency heart rate variability (HF-HRV) to measure recovery from stress during a mindfulness meditation in perfectionistic university students and found that only non-perfectionists demonstrated HF-HRV recovery from stress, suggesting that mindfulness was not effective for perfectionists. However, the mindfulness meditation did not incorporate a nonjudgment element, which may be a key component for perfectionists.


In the current study, the authors examined whether mindfulness with a focus on nonjudgment helps university student perfectionists (n = 120) recover from failure (measured by heart rate (HR), HF-HRV, pNN50). Students were randomly assigned to one of four meditation groups: nonjudgment mindfulness, general mindfulness (i.e., attentional awareness without a nonjudgment component), progressive muscle relaxation, and nothing. Cardiac data were recorded during a 5-min baseline, failure task, and 10-min meditation session.


HR results suggest that both mindfulness conditions and "nothing" encouraged cardiovascular recovery, but that the mindfulness conditions showed even further recovery during the last five minutes of the meditations. HF-HRV results indicated that participants in the nonjudgment mindfulness condition had marginally higher HF-HRV during the last five minutes of the meditation than at baseline, while participants in the other conditions did not.


Therefore, mindfulness with a focus on nonjudgment of emotions may be especially important to help perfectionists improve HF-HRV after failure. © 2020 Society for Psychophysiological Research.


Hannah R Koerten  1 , Tanya S Watford  1 , Eric F Dubow  1 , William H O'Brien  1. Cardiovascular effects of brief mindfulness meditation among perfectionists experiencing failure . Psychophysiology: 57(4):e13517. Apr 2020. doi: 10.1111/psyp.13517. Epub Feb 4 2020 .

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