Mindfulness for voices: An experimental analogue study of the effect of manipulating response style to simulated voices in a non-clinical population

Bradley Jones, Sarah Muddle, Tom Jenkins, Nice Kitapci, Pamela Jacobsen

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Objectives: We aimed to investigate the effects of directly manipulating response style to simulated voice hearing on emotional and cognitive outcomes in a non-clinical population. Design: A between-subjects design with one independent variable, response style (with two levels: mindful acceptance vs attentional avoidance). The dependent variables were subjective distress and anxiety (primary outcomes) and performance on a sustained attention task (secondary outcomes). Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to one of two response styles (mindful acceptance vs. attentional avoidance). They completed a computerised attention task (continuous performance task) whilst listening to a simulation of voice hearing. Participants rated their experience of anxiety and distress before and after completing the sustained attention task which was used to measure their accuracy and response times. Results: One hundred and one participants took part (mindful acceptance (n = 54); attentional avoidance (n = 47)). There were no statistically significant group differences on post-test distress and anxiety scores, correct response rate or response times on the computerised attention task. Participants reported a range of different response styles along the spectrum of avoidance to acceptance, but this had no association with their assigned experimental condition. Adherence to task instructions was therefore low. Conclusions: We are unable to conclude from this study whether experimentally inducing people to respond to voices under cognitively demanding conditions in an avoidant or accepting way has an impact on their emotional or cognitive outcomes. Further research should focus on the development of more robust and reliable procedures for inducing differences in response style under experimental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Data, analysis script, and study materials are available on the Open Science Framework https://osf.io/tpjhs/?view_only=ab90d3c13aa54781b79a29236edee673.


  • auditory
  • cognition
  • cognitive behavioural therapy
  • hallucinations
  • mindfulness
  • psychotic disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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