Mindfulness Predicts Less Texting While Driving

Feldman, G., Greeson, J., Renna, M., & Robbins-Monteith, K. (2011). Mindfulness predicts less texting while driving among young adults: Examining attention- and emotion-regulation motives as potential mediators. Personality and Individual Differences, 51, 856-861.

Large numbers of young adults text while driving. Feldman, Greeson, Renna, and Robbins-Monteith conducted research aimed at identifying individual differences that might predict this dangerous, and often illegal, behavior. These authors hypothesized that texting-while-driving might be inversely correlated with mindfulness, a tendency to intentionally attend to present moment internal and external experiences. They reviewed previous studies that found people with low levels of mindfulness had difficulty with emotional regulation and that traits characterized by poor emotional regulation, such as neuroticism and impulsivity, were associated with more frequent texting. Feldman and colleagues suggested that people may text-while-driving to provide stimulation or distract from unpleasant emotions. A survey of 231 female American college students assessed mindfulness, frequency of texting, emotion-regulation motives (e.g., “When I am upset, I send or read text messages to distract myself”), and attention-regulation motives (e.g., “I switch off my phone to avoid being distracted by incoming messages”). As hypothesized, results showed that participants with lower mindfulness scores reported more frequent texting, and that this relationship was mediated by emotion-regulation motives. The authors suggest that mindfulness-based interventions may aid in emotion-regulation and thus help reduce texting-while-driving, as it has with other risky behaviors.

Making Connections

Attention
Emotion regulation
Individual differences
Mindfulness
Negative correlation

Media Supplement

Clinical psychologist Mark Williams talks about the benefits of a cognitive behavioral therapy called mindfulness meditation. (21 min 58 sec)