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Research Library

Mindfulness and Divergent Thinking: The Value of Heart Rate Variability as an Objective Manipulation Check

    • Published: 2017
    • Julia Keller11, Eric Ruthruff2, and Patrick Keller1
    • Copyright © 2017 by authors, all rights reserved. Universal Journal of Psychology 5(3): 95-104, 2017. DOI: 10.13189/ujp.2017.050301.1. Department of Teaching, Learning, and Leadership, South Dakota State University, United States. 2. Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico, United States.
    • Download the complete paper, click here.


Mindfulness (MF) is a form of mental training that has been linked to increased creativity in problem-solving. Most MF studies recruit participants interested in meditation, and thus are biased towards positive effects. Participants in this study (n = 73) therefore signed up for "mental training," not "mindfulness meditation"; the vast majority (54) had little to no prior meditation experience. This is also the first such experiment to use an objective measure of MF (coherence, a physiological correlate of MF that can be indexed by heart rate variability or HRV) as a manipulation check. Participants were randomly assigned to either MF training or a control condition (a memory exercise), and completed a test of divergent thinking (Unusual Uses Task) before and after mental training. Coherence was significantly higher in the MF group and heart rate was significantly lower in the MF group.