Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Effects of a Brief Mindfulness Induction on Persistence within the Sunk-Cost Paradigm
by Maixner, Benjamin, Ph.D., The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2020, 78; 28149016
Abstract (Summary)

The current study employed a nonconcurrent multiple probe design across participants to evaluate the effects of a brief mindfulness induction on persistence in a behavior analytic sunk-cost paradigm. Eight typical adults were instructed to earn points by pressing keys on a an alpha-numeric keyboard in exchange for money using a sunk-cost analog. Participants chose between persisting in the current course of action on one of four varying fixed ratio (FR) schedules or abandoning it in favor of another fixed-ratio schedule. Though the FRs varied at random, the global average ratio of the mean response requirements for persistence and escape remained constant at 0.5 which has been shown to demonstrate the sunk-cost error (i.e., suboptimal persistence). The dependent variable was measured both by the total number of FRs completed which were greater than the smallest FR in that condition, and the total number of responses for each trial. Confounding variables were reduced by including a brief unfocused mind-wandering induction to rule out some interfering variables associated with mindfulness practice. If participants continued to demonstrate the sunk-cost error after the final probe, then a rule was provided about the contingencies within the task to evaluate whether participants changed behavior or continued to behave impulsively regardless of the contingencies in effect. Seven participants showed sunk-cost/suboptimal persistence during baseline. A sunk-cost reduction after the brief mindfulness induction was observed in two participants. One demonstrated an even greater reduction after the rule was presented. Two of the participants showed effects only after the presentation of the rule. The findings did not support the effectiveness of a brief mindfulness induction to enhance contingency sensitivity within a sunk-cost paradigm.

Keywords: digital-analog, mindfulness, suboptimal persistence, sunk-cost error

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Guerrero, Fernando
Commitee: Carlson, Eric, Macaskill, Anne
School: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Department: Applied Behavioral Analysis
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 82/5(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Psychology
Keywords: Digital analog, Mindfulness, Suboptimal persistence, Sunk cost error, Sunk-cost
Publication Number: 28149016
ISBN: 9798691262609
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