Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice: A 'Toolbox' for Self-Efficacy in Higher Education

Park, Rebecca Jane (2020) Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice: A 'Toolbox' for Self-Efficacy in Higher Education. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice: A 'Toolbox' for Self-Efficacy in Higher Education
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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
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Abstract

Mindfulness-Based Strengths Practice (Niemiec, 2014; MBSP) is an eight-week programme which is unique in its combined teaching of mindfulness and character strengths. In previous literature participants in the programme reported increases in psychological wellbeing, strengths use and employee performance (Ivtzan et al., 2016; Pang & Ruch, 2019a; Wingert et al., 2020). This thesis identifies the consistent outcomes of MBSP by replicating and extending the previous single-cohort studies into several iterations of the programme, and measuring changes in mindfulness, strengths use, self-efficacy, resilience, work engagement, wellbeing, depression, anxiety and stress. Qualitative accounts of the programme were also elicited to further elaborate participants’ experience of the programme and identify additional themes not otherwise measured. The thesis also reports the development of a 6-week adaptation of MBSP, which addresses the requirement for shorter character development programmes in education contexts, while retaining the effectiveness of the original programme. In addition, this thesis explores which of the proposed active components of MBSP (mindfulness, character strengths and their mutual integration) contribute most to the elicitation of specific outcomes.

Multiple controlled intervention studies were conducted. In studies 1, 2 and 3, participants reported consistent increases in mindfulness, strengths use and self-efficacy in both the original structure of MBSP (MBSP-8) and the 6-week adaptation (MBSP-6). Increases in wellbeing and resilience were also observed with some study cohorts within Study 1 and Study 3, but not others. No increases in work engagement, depression, anxiety or stress were recorded. Qualitative analysis in Study 2 from MBSP participants highlighted the superordinate theme of ‘the toolbox effect’, in which participants reported using exercises from MBSP as coping strategies up to a year after completing the programme. Study 3 developed and validated a 6-week adaptation of MBSP which retained the same effects as MBSP-8 and produced marginally stronger effects. Study 4 identified a structural equation model presenting the ‘Strengths over Mindfulness’ theory, which identified strengths education (over mindfulness) as the most active component of MBSP. Study 5 aimed to test this empirically, by directly comparing interventions for each component of MBSP. Unfortunately, this chapter yielded disappointing results and further exploration is required.

Overall this thesis makes several unique contributions to the MBSP literature. Firstly, the finding iii that MBSP (both MSBP-8 and MBSP-6) increases not only strengths use, but also mindfulness and self-efficacy. These novel findings are replicated throughout all trials of MBSP within this thesis. Secondly, the thesis presents some understanding of the active components of MBSP, conceptualised as the ‘toolbox effect’, and the ‘strengths over mindfulness’ theory, suggesting that it is the character strengths taught in the programme that are largely responsible for the increases in self-efficacy and wellbeing reported. Thirdly, a novel, validated six-week adaptation of the intervention was presented (MBSP-6) which demonstrated clear increases in mindfulness, strengths use and self-efficacy, but also in resilience and wellbeing. The thesis therefore provides good support for the use of MBSP in higher education to promote self-efficacy among students, which may additionally improve wellbeing longitudinally, and offers MBSP-6 as a validated alternative where longer programmes may not be appropriate. Future research should look to empirically test the ‘strengths over mindfulness’ theory.

Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:46297
Deposited On:01 Sep 2021 08:58

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