Mindfulness and Stress in The Elderly: Identifying Potential Mediators

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


The Ohio State University

Research Projects

Organizational Units

Journal Issue


Dispositional mindfulness, the ability of an individual to focus on experiences of the present-moment as opposed to being on “auto-pilot”, is known to be associated with lower levels of perceived stress; however, the mechanism by which this occurs is not entirely understood. Current conceptualizations of mindfulness suggest the involvement of increased emotional control and cognitive control in underlying these stress-buffering effects. However, within the elderly, these two controlled processes represent paradoxically divergent trajectories, particularly as age increases, older adults exhibit reduced cognitive control capacities, though emotional control abilities are well-maintained, and at times, enhanced. Our study seeks to examine the role of emotional control and cognitive control as possible mediators of the association between mindfulness and perceived stress. Fifty older adults recruited from the Franklin county area completed self-report measures assessing mindfulness disposition, perceived stress, and emotional control. Additionally, computerized measures of cognitive control assessing working memory, inhibitory control, and set shifting were also administered. We hypothesized a negative correlation between mindfulness disposition and perceived stress, such that participants reporting higher levels of dispositional mindfulness would report lower stress. Additionally, we hypothesized increased difficulties in emotion regulation and lower cognitive control to mediate this relationship. Results, corroborating previous literature, revealed mindfulness disposition and perceived stress were correlated negatively in our older adult population. However, emotion regulation, but not cognitive control, was found to fully mediate the relationship between mindfulness and perceived stress. Our findings reveal the role of enhanced emotional regulation abilities as a potential underlying mechanism contributing to the stress-reducing capacity of dispositional mindfulness in the elderly.


2013 17th Annual Undergraduate Research Colloquium, The Department of Psychology, First Place
2014 2nd Annual Undergraduate Research Forum in Neuroscience, Second Place in Collaborative Research


Mindfulness, Stress, Aging, Cognitive Control, Emotion Regulation, Mediation