Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding the Role of Mindfulness In the Professional's Experience of Being Recently Laid Off: An Interpretive Study
by Barner, Charlotte P., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2011, 205; 3465639
Abstract (Summary)

An interpretive study was conducted to understand the lived experiences of professionals recently informed of being laid off or recently have been laid off to determine future support and resources for their well-being and reemployment. This research examined how professionals' mindfulness played a role in their layoff experience, self-perception, sense of well-being, and search for reemployment. The layoff context was new for mindfulness research.

Eleven professionals (from 35 applicants) met the criteria: “laid off professional” was recently informed of being “laid off” or recently had been “laid off” (recently means within the last 30–45 days), a “professional” (full-time exempt employee with a company for at least one year), and scored as “mindful.” A “layoff” was involuntary due to organizational change, rather than the failure of a professional's performance. “Mindfulness” was operationalized and measured by self reporting using the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) (Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006).

Mindfulness was defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003, p. 143). Self-perception was one's awareness along a continuum of the “I” or minimal/subjective self that is present centered and “me” or narrative/ objective self that is temporal (Gallagher, 2000; Hoare, 2006). Well-being was a state of good mental and physical health.

Participants' interview transcripts underwent narrative analysis. The results suggest mindfulness seems to play an important, positive role of a professional's recent lay off experience. Mindfulness, self-perception and well-being appear to be highly interrelated and relate to the search for reemployment. Mindfulness facets were shown to be associated with the results' 12 themes—7 of which were considered as primary to this research.

Participants' layoff experiences were “catalytic,” but did not fundamentally change their self-perceptions. Self-perceptions remained the ‘same’ and were found to be close to or shifted towards the I/minimal side of the self-perception definition continuum. Participants defined sense of well-being as a triad of “mind-body and spirit” and indicated good to improving well-being after layoffs. Search for reemployment was related to participants' self-perception and sense of well-being. As a result, participants moved through, and put behind, their layoff experiences to envision positive future opportunities. Past experiences were viewed as lessons learned for envisioning their futures with optimism versus pessimism.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Marquardt, Michael J.
Commitee: Carson, Bernadette L., Horn, Laura F.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Education and Human Development
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-B 72/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Developmental psychology, Occupational psychology, Cognitive psychology
Keywords: Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, Mindfulness, Self-perceptions, Unemployment, Well-being
Publication Number: 3465639
ISBN: 978-1-124-77805-1
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