Name: Michael Hogan, BA, CNA, PhD. Senior Lecturer
Research Group and School: Brain and Behaviour, School of Psychology
Mindfulness in Action: Haulie Dowd, Chris Noone, Eric van Lente, and Michael Hogan
We have examined mindfulness in action in a number of research studies focused on pain (Haulie Dowd), critical thinking (Chris Noone), and oneness experiences (Eric van Lente). We have also written a number of book chapters focused on the broader implications of mindfulness for health and cognitive functioning.
Chronic Pain: It has been estimated that 15 to 20 percent of people experience some form of chronic pain. The most frequent causes of pain include arthritis/osteoarthritis, followed by herniated/deteriorating discs, traumatic injury, rheumatoid arthritis, and migraine. The presence of pain sometimes results in people limiting their everyday activities, including work, leisure, social and household tasks in an attempt to either reduce the pain or prevent further harm. Chronic pain can also be difficult for others to understand and can thus impact on interpersonal relationships resulting, for example, in feelings of social isolation, being misunderstood and even helplessness. In a study of 124 adult participants, who reported experiencing chronic pain we randomly assigned participant to either a computerized mindfulness-based cognitive therapy programme (“Mindfulness in Action” [MIA]) or a pain management psychoeducation (PM) programme. Week-by-week details of both programmes are presented in our paper, and all our mindfulness videos and meditations are available here. Examining changes over time, we found that participants in both MIA and PM groups showed significant improvements on measures of pain interference, pain acceptance and catastrophizing from pre-treatment to post-treatment and the improvements were maintained at six-month follow-up. Average pain intensity also reduced from baseline to post-treatment for both groups, but the reductions were not maintained at follow-up. Participants in both groups reported increases in subjective well-being, and these increases were more pronounced in the MIA when compared with the PM group. Participants in the MIA group also reported a greater reduction in pain ‘right now’, and increases in their ability to manage emotions, manage stress and enjoy pleasant events on completion of the intervention.
Critical Thinking: We have examined whether mindfulness facilitates critical thinking, what mechanisms are responsible for these effects, and what are the short and long term effects of mindfulness practice on critical thinking skills and dispositions. These have been published in Frontiers in Psychology, Mindfulness and BMC Psychology. The first study in this series demonstrated a significant but weak indirect effect between both the present-moment attention and non-reactivity facets of dispositional mindfulness and critical thinking mediated by inhibitory control skills. The second study found that there was no difference between a brief mindfulness meditation condition or a sham meditation condition in terms of performance on both an executive function task and a critical thinking task. However, brief mindfulness meditation did improve critical thinking for those lower in need for cognition and those lower in actively open-minded thinking. The third study found that there were no differences between 6 weeks of mindfulness meditation training and 6 weeks of sham meditation practice on executive functioning, thinking dispositions and critical thinking changes over time.
Oneness experiences: Throughout history, people have sought to understand their relationship with others, the world, and the universe – and in many religious and philosophical traditions there has been an attempt to understand experiences of oneness or non-duality that arise in these relationships. While there is evidence that greater mindfulness is related to greater well-being, this series of studies examines whether changes in meditators’ oneness self-perception is a mechanism by which these changes occur. The first in this series employed a collective intelligence methodology to examine long-term meditators experience of oneness. A broad range of oneness experiences were reported. This range of experiences will be used to develop a questionnaire-based measure of oneness self-perception. Using the new measure, the relationships between mindfulness, oneness self-perception and well-being will be examined, and a follow-up study will use a randomised-controlled trial with beginning meditators to examine the effects of mindfulness meditation on the development of oneness self-perceptions over time.
Noone, C., & Hogan, M. J. (2017). Improvements in Critical Thinking Performance Following Mindfulness Meditation Depend on Need for Cognition and Open-mindedness. Mindfulness. DOI:10.1007/s12671-017-0789-8.
Noone, C., & Hogan, M. J. (2016). A protocol for a randomised active-controlled trial to evaluate the effects of an online mindfulness intervention on executive control, critical thinking and key thinking dispositions in a university student sample. BMC Psychology, 4(1), 1-12.
Noone, C., Bunting, B., & Hogan, M. J. (2016). Does Mindfulness Enhance Critical Thinking? Evidence for the Mediating Effects of Executive Functioning in the Relationship between Mindfulness and Critical Thinking. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 2043.
Dowd, H., Hogan, M. J., McGuire, B. E., Sarma, K. M., & Fish, R. A. (2014). Comparison of an online mindfulness-based cognitive therapy intervention with online pain management psychoeducation: A randomized controlled pilot study. Clinical Journal Of Pain, 31(6), 517-527
Hogan, M. J., Dwyer, C., Harney, O., Noone, C. & Conway, R. (2014). Metacognitive Skill Development
and Applied Systems Science: A Framework of Metacognitive Skills, Self-Regulatory Functions and Real-World Applications In: Peña-Ayala, A (eds). Metacognition: Fundaments, Applications, and Trends. International: Springer.
Hogan, M. J. (2013). Mindful health and the power of possibility In: Amanda Ie, Christelle T. Ngnoumen, and Ellen J. Langer (eds). The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of Mindfulness. Chichester, UK: Wiley Blackwell."