Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Cay Anderson-Hanley




startle, magnitude, mindfulness, acoustic


Previous research has demonstrated that the magnitude and duration of the acoustic startle response can be modulated by a number of psychological factors. Mindfulness meditation, being a form of mental training known to produce benefits in affect and attention regulation as well as other domains, may modulate factors of the acoustic startle response. The present study investigated participants’ skin conductance responses to an acoustic startle stimulus before and after an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, and paired this assessment with self-reported trait mindfulness and positive and negative affect. There was significant startle habituation across the intervention, but no between groups differences on startle magnitude. Self-report measurement yielded significant increases in negative affect for the control group, and significant increases in trait mindfulness for the MBSR group, but this did not relate to changes in startle magnitude. Importantly, it was found that MBSR participants tended to be significantly more likely than controls to report mindful breathing at the post-intervention startle trial. Although startle magnitude was not significantly affected by MBSR enrollment, behavior during the startle trial may have been significantly affected.