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Trait Mindfulness in Couples’ Relationships: A Meta-Analysis and Conditional Process Analysis Approach

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Title: Trait Mindfulness in Couples’ Relationships: A Meta-Analysis and Conditional Process Analysis Approach
Author: Quinn-Nilas, Christopher
Department: Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
Program: Family Relations and Applied Nutrition
Advisor: Milhausen, Robin
Abstract: New theoretical perspectives have begun to extend the study of mindfulness beyond individual-level outcomes and to the consideration of its influence on interpersonal romantic relationships. This dissertation includes 2 studies: a meta-analysis of the empirical literature correlating mindfulness to relationship satisfaction, and an empirical study that examined the mechanisms through which mindfulness increases relationship and sexual satisfaction among midlife married Canadians. The purpose of study 1 was to estimate the population effect size of the correlation between mindfulness and relationship satisfaction, whether this effect was conditional on any moderator variables, and the plausibility of publication bias. Meta-analysis of 28 samples correlating mindfulness and relationship satisfaction indicated that the average effect was small to moderate (.24) and publication bias was not evident. Moderation analysis showed that the effect size was consistent across sample age, gender, marital status, meditation status, and mindfulness dimensionality. This study supported emerging theoretical perspectives linking mindfulness to romantic relationship outcomes and demonstrated that the association was consistent across major demographic characteristics. The purpose of study 2 was to build upon and extend theory and empirical literature concerning the Self-Determination Theory mechanisms through which mindfulness might be associated with relationship and sexual satisfaction. A sample of 700 midlife (40-59-year-old) married Canadians was recruited from a national Qualtrics panel to test pre-registered hypotheses concerning whether need satisfaction would function as an indirect pathway of association between mindfulness and relationship and sexual satisfaction. After splitting the model by gender and controlling for age and marital duration, mindfulness was associated with increased relationship and sexual satisfaction through meeting one’s need for relatedness within the relationship. For women, indirect effects were also significant through autonomy need satisfaction and self-compassion. Together, study 1 demonstrated that mindfulness was related to relationship satisfaction across the extant literature and study 2 showed that the effect was primarily indirect. Despite these pathways being statistically significant, the effects were small and this, combined with the meta-estimate from study 1 also being small, suggests that mindfulness may be beneficial for relationships in large part because of its synergy with other variables and rather than via a direct pathway.
Date: 2019
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