Research on the effect of mindfulness meditation on false memories has produced mixed findings. Seminal research on the topic suggested that a brief mindfulness meditation before encoding increases false memories. Subsequent researchers have found no effect or even a decrease in false memories as a result of brief mindfulness meditation. None of these studies have analyzed mood or stimuli valence as a factor.
One hundred and twenty-three introductory psychology undergraduate were assigned to one of four between-subject conditions. Depending on the condition to which they were assigned, participants either completed a brief mindfulness meditation exercise or were told to let think about whatever came to their mind (i.e., a control condition). In addition, half of the participants then received a negative mood induction while the other half did not. All participants completed a Deese-Roediger-McDermott false memory free recall and recognition procedure using both neutral and negative lists.
The results showed that mindfulness and mood had little overall effect on false memory for neutral lures. Negative mood reduced the false recognition of negative lures only for those in the mindfulness condition. This pattern was more applicable to individuals with higher negative trait affect.
Mindfulness mediation reduced false memory only when a negative mood and negative lures were present. We discuss the results in terms of the source monitoring framework as well as encoding and retrieval processes. Further work is needed to clarify the specific instances when mindfulness impacts the occurrence of false memory.