Negative emotional reactivity as measured by neuroticism has been shown to be an important risk factor for the development of depressive symptoms. This study investigated whether the ability to be mindful can protect against the negative effects of this temperamental vulnerability. An English community sample of N= 144 individuals who had completed a neuroticism questionnaire six years previously were assessed for current depressive symptoms and dispositional levels of mindfulness at points of assessment approximately one year apart. Dispositional mindfulness moderated the relation between neuroticism and current depressive symptoms: Neuroticism was significantly related to depression in those with low to medium levels of dispositional mindfulness but not in those with relatively high levels of mindfulness. Further analyzes focusing on particular mindfulness skills indicated that this effect was carried mostly by the ability to describe inner experience. The results suggest that dispositional mindfulness and particularly the ability to describe inner experience are helpful in dealing with negative emotional reactivity in a way that reduces the likelihood of depressive symptoms to develop.
- Cognitive reactivity
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