Stepping out of history: Mindfulness improves insight problem solving

Brian D. Ostafin*, Kyle T. Kassman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

141 Citations (Scopus)


Insight problem solving is hindered by automated verbal-conceptual processes. Because mindfulness meditation training aims at "nonconceptual awareness" which involves a reduced influence of habitual verbal-conceptual processes on the interpretation of ongoing experience, mindfulness may facilitate insight problem solving. This hypothesis was examined across two studies (total N = 157). Participants in both studies completed a measure of trait mindfulness and a series of insight and noninsight problems. Further, participants in Study 2 completed measures of positive affect and a mindfulness or control training. The results indicated that (a) trait mindfulness predicts better insight but not noninsight problem solving (both studies), (b) this relation is maintained when controlling for positive affect (Study 2), (c) mindfulness training improves insight but not noninsight problem solving (Study 2) and (d) this improvement is partially mediated by state mindfulness (Study 2). These findings are the first to document a direct relation between mindfulness and creativity. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1031-1036
Number of pages6
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun-2012


  • Creativity
  • Mindfulness
  • Insight problems
  • Meditation
  • Automatic processes

Cite this