Attitude, Health

Mindful People Make Better Health Choices

When people offer health advice, are you appreciative or resentful? It matters, because your emotional response to advice influence the likelihood that you will follow it. Now, a study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania suggests that people who are more mindful are more receptive to health messaging and more likely to be motivated to change. What exactly is “mindful”? The researchers define it as “having awareness of the present moment.”  A university news release reports that the researchers assembled a group of people who achieve only low levels of weekly exercise and exposed them to a variety of health messages. The researchers observed the reactions of the participants to the health messages, recorded their motivation (or lack thereof) to change their behavior, and later inquired as to whether the participants had actually made any changes in their behavior. In order to gauge how mindful each person was in their day-to-day lives, the researchers asked each participant to complete the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale(link is external) (MAAS). The MAAS is composed of 15 scenarios – including “I forget a person’s name almost as soon as I’ve been told it for the first time” and “I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along the way” – that are answered on a scale of 1-6, ranging from “almost always” to “almost never.” The higher a person’s total score, the more mindful that person is considered to be.  The study showed that less mindful people were also less likely to make a positive change in their behavior as a response to health messaging.

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