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02-09-2020 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 12/2020 Open Access

Mindfulness 12/2020

Common Factors Underlying the Five Facets of Mindfulness and Proposed Mechanisms: a Psychometric Study Among Meditators and Non-meditators

Mindfulness > Uitgave 12/2020
Kathrin Bednar, Martin Voracek, Ulrich S. Tran
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-020-01492-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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This study investigated whether common factors underlie the established mindfulness facets, as assessed by the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) and some of the mechanisms, which have been previously proposed to explain the beneficial effects of mindfulness on mental health.


Multigroup exploratory structural equation models (ESEM) were fitted to samples of non-meditators and meditators (total N = 3265) to (1) identify the number of factors that underlie the facets and mechanisms of mindfulness, (2) establish measurement invariance, and (3) conduct path analyses to determine the associations of extracted factors with psychological symptoms.


Five measurement-invariant common factors were found to underlie the mechanisms and facets of mindfulness. The FFMQ facets loaded distinctly, but none of them highest, on these common factors. The common factors represented different ways of focusing, dealing with distress, and relating towards one’s own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and body sensations. Three of the common factors appeared to specifically reflect meditation experience. The FFMQ facets accounted for less variance of depression, anxiety, somatization, and stress scores than marker scales of the five common factors, all of which derived from the proposed mechanisms.


The common factors appear to be elements of the supporting mechanisms and psychological faculties of mindfulness. Their existence may explain the mutual interrelations between mechanisms and self-reported mindfulness but also suggests that self-reported mindfulness may not be factorially distinct from its assumed mechanisms. Longitudinal studies as well as behavioral data are needed to probe the generalizability and causality of these psychometric results.

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