How Can I Take the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills?

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How Can I Take the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills?

The psychometric properties and linkages with other dimensions of a self-report instrument for the assessment of mindfulness skills were investigated. Three groups of undergraduate students and a group of outpatients with borderline personality disorder took part in the study. Four mindfulness skills were identified based on discussions of Mindfulness in the present literature: observing, describing, acting with awareness, and accepting without judgment. Each skill was measured using scales that were developed and evaluated. Internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and a clear factor structure were all found in the results. The majority of the predicted correlations with other constructs were found to be significant. The findings imply that distinct characteristics of personality and mental health, such as neuroticism, psychological symptoms, emotional intelligence, alexithymia, experiential avoidance, dissociation, and absorption, are associated with mindfulness skills in different ways.

What Exactly Is KIMS? 

The Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) is a 39-item self-assessment that measures Mindfulness on four scales: Observing, Describing, Acting With Awareness, and Accepting Without Judgment. Baer, Smith, and Allen created it in 2004 at Kentucky University. In 2011, the KIMS-Short, a 20-item variant of it, was developed in Germany to allow researchers to reproduce the core factor structure. KIMS-Short, on the other hand, demonstrates that the Observing subscale is divided into two distinct but highly linked components based on whether the observed stimuli are internal or external. The model of four linked components has received strong support, and the scales have been demonstrated to be both internally consistent and sensitive to change when used in conjunction with Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.


With the publishing of the first empirical research of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) in the 1980s and 1990s, Mindfulness entered the realm of evidence-based intervention. Although the mindfulness exercises and practices were taken from Buddhist meditation traditions, Mindfulness appears to be a psychological capacity related to attention and awareness. For many years, psychologists had studied attention, but Mindfulness was new and exciting. Interest in bringing psychological science approaches to the study of Mindfulness rose swiftly, and the number of publications published in peer-reviewed journals continues to rise. One of the first tasks for psychologists was to figure out how Mindfulness, which has ancient Buddhist roots, could be characterized in modern psychological terms. There have been other definitions proposed. Many people define Mindfulness as a type of present-moment attention or awareness that has two components: attention itself and attention quality. Open, curious, welcoming, friendly, nonjudgmental, compassionate, and kind are just a few examples of these two characteristics, which are frequently referred to as the “what” and “how” of Mindfulness. 

Mindfulness has also been defined as a state of consciousness in which certain qualities of awareness are present, as a dispositional or trait-like general inclination to pay attention in these ways, and as a set of skills that may be learned and practiced. In the framework of psychological science, a mindfulness assessment is necessary for understanding its connections to psychological functioning, health, and welfare.

Currently, self-report questionnaires are used to assess Mindfulness. A complete description of the concept to be measured, based on relevant literature, is required for the formulation of questionnaires. Because of its Buddhist roots, the literature on Mindfulness is exceptionally diverse.

Buddhist literature on Mindfulness is written in ancient languages, predate science by centuries, and represent a variety of subtraditions and schools of thought as Buddhism moved across Asia. Because most psychologists are not Buddhist academics, the creation of mindfulness surveys has relied heavily on modern descriptions of Mindfulness. As a result, the questionnaires have been criticized for failing to accurately capture Buddhist beliefs. 

“Modern attempts to operationalize mindfulness have continually failed to produce an unequivocal definition of mindfulness that takes into consideration the intricacy of the original definitions,” according to Chiesa. Critics have also raised concerns about the psychometric qualities of the present questionnaires, emphasizing the need for more objective measurements. The remainder of this review presents two broad reasons for using self-report to quantify Mindfulness. To begin, there will always be discrepancies between Buddhist and psychological definitions of Mindfulness; however, these distinctions are not always harmful, and they can be useful for scientific or clinical purposes. Self-report, the most widely utilized, efficient, and easy type of assessment, is made possible by defining Mindfulness as a psychological ability and conceiving it in psychological terms. Despite their well-known drawbacks, questions aires can give trustworthy, valid, and relevant data when they are well-designed for the demographics they are intended for. Second, the most widely used mindfulness measures have acceptable psychometric qualities and contribute significantly to our understanding of Mindfulness. Some of this knowledge has come from investigating unusual findings, which can occur in any field of research and lead to valuable discoveries. 

There Are Numerous Meanings of Mindfulness.

Buddhist academics point out that Mindfulness is described in a variety of ways in ancient writings.

“Buddhism is a poly tradition that has grown over millennia to incorporate a vast diversity of perspectives about mindfulness,” according to Dreyfus. As a result, no single viewpoint can ever claim to be “the Buddhist view of mindfulness”*. 

Gethin observes that establishing a “succinct definition of mindfulness” in early Buddhist literature is difficult. There are a variety of meanings available, each with its own personality.” Nonetheless, Grossman and Van Dam claim that there is a “shared basis of knowledge” among Buddhist scholars, despite the fact that different interpretations and definitions of mindfulness place different emphasis on different features. There are parallels between psychological concepts of Mindfulness. 

The phrase is utilized in a number of research-based programs, each with its own interpretation of Mindfulness and how it might help with specific issues. The creators of questionnaires drew on various sections of these and other literature, emphasizing various aspects of Mindfulness. Buddhist and psychological views of Mindfulness appear to be two different but overlapping categories, each with its own set of variations and consistency. A third category could be popular perceptions in the media and among the general public, some of which are misconceptions. The extent of overlap is unknown, but it appears to be greater for Buddhist and psychological ideas than for popular ones.

Why Do Modern Psychological Ideas Differ From Buddhist Origins? 

Since the advent of mindfulness-based interventions in mainstream Western contexts, the necessity to make Mindfulness acceptable to non-Buddhist participants has been acknowledged (MB’s). According to Kabat-Zinn, one of the goals of MBSR was to re frame Mindfulness within the contexts of science, medicine, and healthcare “such that it would be most valuable to individuals who couldn’t hear it or come into it. Through the more traditional dharma gates.”

Similarly, DB T’s mindfulness skills are “psychological and behavioral translations of meditation practices from Eastern spiritual training” that are “purposefully presented in a secular framework,” according to Lineman. People with significant emotional disturbance may be unable to practice formal meditation. Thus, DBT includes several non meditative behavioral tasks to build Mindfulness, according to Lineman. Mindfulness is defined as a measurable psychological phenomenon that creates contradictions with Buddhist beliefs. Current construct validation methods stress using a uni dimensional subscale to measure each feature of a complex construct. As a result, if Mindfulness is defined as present-moment awareness, non judgment, and non reactivity, each of these components should be evaluated separately. The relationships between the facets and other variables can then be investigated, and facet scores can be summed to indicate the overall construct. This method has made significant contributions to understanding the nature of Mindfulness and its connections to psychological functioning, but it has done so from the standpoint of psychological science. Concerns have been stated from a Buddhist perspective regarding breaking Mindfulness down into specific components and separating it from other variables with which it is intertwined, such as knowledge, ethical behavior, and the four “immeasurables” (compassion, loving-kindness, sympathetic joy, equanimity).

Mindfulness Questionnaires Have Psychometric Features.

The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS), the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMl), and the Cognitive Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised are the most commonly used mindfulness questionnaires (CAMS-). All of them were created to evaluate the general inclination to be mindful in everyday life. Their psychometric qualities have received a lot of attention. Internal consistency is usually quite high. The test-retest reliability ranges from fair to excellent. For the MAAS and CAMS-R, factor structure is substantial; for the KIMS and FFMQ, factor structure varies between mediators and intermediators but is generally stable within these groups. Significant but varying correlations exist between mindfulness surveys, owing to variances in the parts of Mindfulness they highlight. Construct validity (e.g., whether mindfulness scores correlate in predicted ways with other measures and differ as expected between groups) is strong for the MAAS, KIMS, CAMS-R, and FFMQ, but mixed for the FMl response to mindfulness training, indicating that the therapeutic effects of MBs appear to be mediated by increases in self-reported mindfulness skills. Two recent meta-analyses found modest support for discriminant validity in the context of treatment change, i.e., that scores on mindfulness questionnaires grow more in mindfulness-based programs than in other programs. (Unpublished work by Baer et al.) More research is needed to determine the best way to describe and capture the important what and how aspects of Mindfulness. The findings also demonstrate that programs with no specific mindfulness training frequently result in increases in mindfulness scores, possibly because they cultivate associated abilities like awareness of thoughts and feelings and willingness to experience them. More research is needed to better understand the circumstances that lead to the development of mindfulness skills. Finally, greater research into the incremental validity of mindfulness measures over neuroticism and negative affectivity is needed. Some KIMS scales have incremental validity over negative affectivity in predicting emotion dysregulation, according to Vujanovic et al. The average correlation between Mindfulness and neuroticism was.45 in a meta-analytic evaluation of 18 correlational research, indicating that they are connected but distinct. The incremental validity, on the other hand, was not investigated.

Unexpected Discoveries Provide Opportunities for Learning. 

Although mindfulness surveys have done well on a variety of psychometric tests, strange results have been observed on occasion. Binge drinkers, for example, scored higher on the FM than nondrinkers, owing to higher levels of physiological awareness, according to Leigh, Bowen, and Marlatt. The effects of present-moment awareness are modulated by its features, according to subsequent studies utilizing the FFMQ, which provides independent scores for present-moment awareness, non judging, and non reactivity. That example, participants who endorse high levels of present-moment awareness have been shown to have reduced levels of substance use, depression, rumination, concern, and blood pressure, but only if the awareness is nonjudgmental or nonreactive. These findings are in line with previous studies on self-focused attention, a concept that was well-studied before Mindfulness became popular. When self-focused attention is nonjudgmental and experiencing, it is adaptive; when it is judgemental and ruminative, it is manipulative. As a result of further investigation into the unexpected results of a mindfulness questionnaire, it became obvious that the same pattern is seen in the literature on self-focused attention also applies to self-awareness as understood in the mindfulness area.

That is, unless it is accompanied by a nonjudgmental, nonreactive position, present-moment awareness of thoughts and feelings can be counterproductive. This conclusion emphasizes the importance of uni dimensional subscales, which are necessary for studying moderation effects. The mindfulness facets’ moderating effects also help to explain another strange finding: the FFMQ’s component structure differs across mediators and non mediators. All five dimensions of Mindfulness are components of an overarching mindfulness construct in mediators; however, the watching sub scale, which assesses awareness of internal and external stimuli, is not included in this construct in intermediators. This is a significant restriction from a psychometric standpoint, and it shows that a total score on the FFMQ has doubtful validity in non meditating populations (although a total score that omits the observing scale can be useful). However, the pattern is useful from a conceptual standpoint. It demonstrates that present-moment awareness can be either consistent with Mindfulness (nonjudgmental, nonreactive) or inconsistent with Mindfulness (judgmental, reactive) and that in the absence of mindfulness training, present-moment awareness can be inconsistent with Mindfulness (judgmental, reactive).

Apart From Self-Reporting.

An objective behavioral test that evaluates Mindfulness would be a useful contribution to the literature, as it would supplement the findings of self-report methods. A recently developed breath counting task evaluates the capacity to keep the focus on the breath (a typical meditation technique) and has demonstrated that mediators have higher scores than intermediators and that scores improve with training. It does not, however, evaluate the nonjudgmental, nonreactive approach to present-moment events that past research says is critical. Frewen et al. describe a similar exercise in which participants are asked to focus on their breath for 15 minutes while a bell rings at irregular intervals. At each bell, participants record whether their attention was focused on the breath or wandered. Scores have been demonstrated to improve with practice and to be connected with self-reported Mindfulness only weakly. However, because it does not assess traits of awareness such as acceptance, openness, or curiosity, the authors classify this task as a test of focused attention during meditation rather than a measure of Mindfulness.


Questionnaires have well-known drawbacks, and mindfulness questionnaires are no exception. From a psychometric standpoint, attempts to work with these challenges have been rather effective, and the surveys have made significant contributions to understanding Mindfulness as it is defined in psychological science. The questionnaires are unlikely to capture the intricacies of Buddhist understandings of Mindfulness, although this may not be a major issue. Much recent research aims to quantify Mindfulness in the tailored forms taught in evidence-based MBIs or to investigate non-Buddhist individuals’ dispositional tendency for nonjudgmental awareness in everyday life.

“Degree of adherence to historical definitions may not always be important to mindfulness definitions applied in the present practice” for such purposes. 

Mindfulness, on the other hand, is taught in Buddhist teachings with compassion, kindness, joy, serenity, knowledge, ethical behavior, and more. Each of these is most likely a measurable multidimensional construct in terms of psychological science. The use of psychological science methods to conceptualize and measure these occurrences could substantially improve psychological understanding. Some of these factors (e.g., compassion, equanimity) currently have self-report instruments, which are anticipated to contribute significantly to a better understanding of Mindfulness.

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