Last month, we invited you to take a quiz measuring your level of mindfulness. The quiz, based on work by researchers at Drexel University and LaSalle University, gauges how much you maintain a moment-to-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment; it also examines how much you can accept these things without judgment—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” thing to be thinking or feeling in a given moment.
So far, more than 1,200 Greater Good readers have completed the quiz, and (not surprisingly), you’re a pretty mindful group. The median score is 84 out of 100—firmly within the “high” range of mindfulness scores.
After analyzing the results, we saw some noteworthy trends:
• The strongest link in the data was between mindfulness and meditation: The amount you meditate strongly predicts how mindful you are; the more you meditate, the higher your mindfulness score is likely to be. People who meditate daily scored about 15 percent higher on the quiz than people who never meditate (see graph below).
• Also, men seem to meditate a bit more than women. Twenty-one percent of the men who took the quiz reported that they meditate daily; only nine percent of women said the same. On the flip side, 32 percent of women said they “never” meditate, compared with only 27 percent of men.
• Age also correlated with mindfulness: The older you are, the most likely you are to be aware and accepting. There’s a pretty dramatic jump in mindfulness from the time you’re a teenager to the time you’re in the 50-65 range, though mindfulness seems to plateau after that (see graph below).
• Just in case you’re wondering: Age still predicts mindfulness even after controlling for meditation frequency, and vice versa. That is, people who meditate more showed higher mindfulness regardless of their age, and people reported greater mindfulness as they aged regardless of how much they meditated. That said, we did find some evidence that meditation is more effective at increasing mindfulness for younger people—but it’s hard to say for sure without considering other factors, like: Do young and old people meditate the same way?
• People who have been married—even if they’re now divorced or windowed—are on average more mindful than single people.
And one thing we didn’t find: a link between mindfulness and the number of children you have. While there was some evidence suggesting that people with more kids are more mindful, that seemed to be explained by the stronger link between mindfulness and age: Obviously, people who have more kids are on average older than people who don’t have kids, and we already found that older people are more mindful. Upon further analysis, there is no evidence that having kids makes you more or less mindful, and mindful people don’t seem any more likely to have kids.
How do these findings strike you? Do they seem surprising, absurd, true to your own experience? Weigh in with a comment below.
(Special thanks to the GGSC’s Gregg Sparkman for his help analyzing our data!)