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Psychology students present results of mindfulness, texting studies

May 1, 2014

Guided mindfulness can decrease anxiety and dysfunctional thoughts, senior Erica Bonnot discovered while researching the effects of purposefully clearing your head.
And for those who tend to operate on “auto pilot,” guided mindfulness such as yoga or meditation can have even greater effects.
Those were some of the conclusion she drew from her senior capstone, “The Effects of a Guided Mindfulness Intervention on Students’ Perceived Stress.” She, along with senior Jennifer Hrebar-Ihler, presented her capstone project Tuesday in Dudley Hall.
For her study, Bonnot worked with Stephens faculty to identify students who were about to take an exam or who had an upcoming performance of some sort. She gave them each a survey gauging their anticipatory stress levels. She then gave one group a five-minute Guided Mindfulness Intervention session from the University of California-Los Angeles, asking a separate control group to sit in silence for five minutes. Both took the survey again to determine whether stress levels had changed.
As she hypothesized, the experimental group experienced a drop in stress and an increase in positive attitude, while the control group experienced a slight increase in stress and anxiety.
“If five minutes can make a difference, what about 10 minutes or 45 minutes every day?” Bonnot challenged.

Jennnifer Hrebar-Ihler discusses texting as part of her capstone project.

For her capstone, Hrebar-Ihler studied whether increased use of text messaging negatively impacts face-to-face communication. After all, those who send and receive texts don’t get the verbal cues and body language that signal whether someone is being sincere.
To her surprise, Hrebar-Ihler discovered that teens and young people who reported heavy text usage showed no measurable differences in emotional intelligence than those who text less. As for older subjects in her study, she actually discovered a positive correlation between high text usage and emotional intelligence.
Hrebar-Ihler acknowledged that her study might have been flawed because it was based on self-reported surveys, but other studies have found similar results. She concluded that those who already have emotional intelligence and strong communication skills would use whatever form of communication is available to them, including text messaging.

Both Bonnot and Hrebar-Ihler said there’s more work to be done in both research areas and outlined some possible next steps for future studies.

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