We integrate Buddhist thought and psychological science to propose a novel conceptual and operational definition of equanimity. First, we introduce the Decoupling Model of Equanimity—conceptualizing equanimity as the decoupling of desire (wanting and not wanting) from the hedonic tone of current or anticipated experience (pleasant and unpleasant). Second, we propose that equanimity is manifested by an intentional attitude of acceptance toward experience regardless of its hedonic tone, as well as by reduced automatic reactivity to the hedonic tone of experience. Third, we theorize that the practice of mindfulness leads to the cultivation of equanimity. We tested these ideas, focusing on the measurement of equanimity toward unpleasant hedonic tone using self-report scales. Meditation novices (M(SD)age = 31.4(10.9), 65.1 % women), from the general community in Israel, were randomized to a four-session mindfulness training condition (N = 138) or non-intervention control condition (N = 53). Confirmatory factor analyses yielded that, as theorized, equanimity entails one higher-order factor reflecting equanimity, and two lower-order factors—attitude of acceptance and reactivity to unpleasant hedonic tone. Moreover, partially consistent with predictions, we found that relative to the control condition, mindfulness training led to reductions in reactivity to unpleasant hedonic tone over time, as a function of responding to the training (i.e., elevation in state mindfulness). However, training did not lead to expected elevations in attitude of acceptance, regardless of degree of responding to the training. We discuss the implications of these findings for equanimity and mindfulness mechanisms research.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Dr. Bernstein recognizes the funding support from the Israel Science Foundation and the Caesarea-Rothschild Foundation. Mr. Hadash recognizes the support from the University of Haifa President’s Doctoral Fellowship Program. Amit Bernstein and graduate student Galia Tanay designed the study. Amit Bernstein, Pavel Goldstein, and Natalie Segev analyzed the data. All authors worked on the manuscript. We want to thank Yaara Nitzan, Yael Lichtash, Koby Avital, Maayan Shenker, Hagai Schreuer, and David Spivak for their help in carrying out the study and Kim Yuval for his help in managing the data.
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.
- Mindfulness mechanisms
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Psychology
- Health(social science)
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Applied Psychology