The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)

Mindful Attention Awareness ScaleEver found yourself driving and suddenly unaware of how you got to your present location?

Do you find yourself walking fast to get somewhere and missing the experience of getting there?

How about plowing through your meal without tasting it?

We are all susceptible to the “busyness” of life and the detachment from the valuable and satisfying experience of our daily lives. Our brains tend to go on autopilot to conserve energy. By saving energy, our minds are robbing us of the delicious moment-to-moment experience that improves psychological and physical well-being.

While humans vary in their abilities in trait mindfulness, those who have effectively cultivated it live lives with higher levels of autonomy, pleasant affect, vitality, and satisfaction.

The most popular scale to measure mindfulness is the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale. It has been validated across cultures and age groups. It has been helpful in various areas of research, especially in self-determination theory and consciousness. It can be useful in helping people discover a baseline to cultivate this inherent human ability.

Let’s explore how the MAAS can give you an indication of a baseline in mindfulness, and how this scoring can help improve your moment-to-moment experiences.

Before you read on, we thought you might like to download our 3 Mindfulness Exercises for free. These science-based, comprehensive exercises will not only help you cultivate a sense of inner peace throughout your daily life but will also give you the tools to enhance the mindfulness of your clients, students, or employees.

You can download the free PDF here.

What is the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale?

The research that created the MAAS investigated mindfulness as an attribute that varies between and within people (Brown, Ryan, 2003). Humans vary in attention and awareness to present events and experiences. The inherent capability differs in individuals due to levels of discipline, self-regulation, and personality.

The MAAS assesses individual differences in the frequency of mindful states over time. The scale is a 15-item (1-6 Likert scale) questionnaire to assess dispositional (or trait) mindfulness. The measurements from the MAAS tap consciousness related to self-regulation and various areas of well-being.

As a trait, it is shown that some individuals are more proficient at putting themselves into a state of mindfulness than others. It is also suggested that the willingness and practice of mindfulness varied as well. Focusing our internal radar is a skill that can be improved.

This scale is based around the understanding that all humans have a “radar” for internal and external experience, which is awareness. Consciousness is built through harnessing the focusing of that awareness, which is attention. Mindfulness is enhanced attention to and awareness of current experience or the present moment.

This scale intentionally excludes mood, attitude, and motivation to keep dispositional mindfulness neutral as a construct. The MAAS measures one’s tendency toward mindfulness or mindlessness. Scores of the MAAS strongly correlate with self-consciousness, rumination, and self-reflection.

Those scoring higher in mindfulness tend to report higher levels of pleasant affect, higher self-esteem, optimism, and self-actualization. Also, lower levels of neuroticism, anxiety, depression, and unpleasant affect are reported in those scoring higher in mindfulness.

Some of the basic needs of humans like autonomy, relatedness, and competence are typically met in someone who has a higher tendency to pursue the practice of mindfulness actively.


A Brief Look at the Authors Brown and Ryan

Research in mindfulness has taken vast leaps since the introduction of the MAAS in 2003.

The authors of this scale are continuing their excellent research and initiatives to better understand mindfulness and its role in self-determination theory and human consciousness. Their valuable work continues to improve our understanding for improvements in well-being practices.

Kirk Warren Brown, Ph.D. is an associate professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. He continues to be interested in consciousness and its role in human functioning. The research in social psychology surrounding mindfulness and its effect on compassion and emotional self-regulation continues to intrigue him and his colleagues.

Community-wide interventions in mindfulness practices have been improving the world around this research. A recent article about kindness and strangers showed the role of mindfulness in outreach. The impact of this research is far-reaching.

Richard M Ryan, Ph.D. continues to research self-determination theory and its relationship to mindfulness. His research on human motivation is world-renowned. He is considered an expert in the field. He continues his work as a professor at the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, North Sydney.

Self-determination theory and its applications can be found in the following areas: education, healthcare, relationships, psychotherapy, psychopathology, organizations, sports & exercise, goals, health & well-being, and the environment. It is an exciting area of research. The development of interventions and programs to affect change is profound.

When asked about his research since 2003, Dr. Ryan was kind enough to reply:

Our interest in mindfulness relates to our broader view within self-determination theory that awareness contributes both autonomous regulation (because with greater awareness people make better choices and act with more congruence) and wellness (because mindful awareness helps us both avoid bad experiences, and better appreciate and savor good ones). So since 2003, we have been expanding our research in the connections between both mindful awareness and interested self-reflection on peoples quality of experience and behavior.”

When asked how practitioners might utilize the MAAS in real-life settings such as coaching, Dr. Ryan replied with the following:

The MAAS is pretty straightforward, so it might be of interest to people as a change score. We haven’t used it that way in research, but it might be a good “mirror” or at least point of discussion and interest.

In 2015, Brown and Ryan edited The Handbook of Mindfulness: Theory, Research, and Practice. This book explores the evolving field of study of mindfulness and its application in improving life satisfaction. Interventions for behavioral and emotion dysregulation disorders like depression, anxiety, addictions, and physical health conditions are examined.

As their work continues to improve practitioners’ understanding of the role of mindfulness in well-being, further interventions can be developed. The more we know about consciousness, the more we can harness the benefits in well-being, and how a deeper understanding of awareness and attention improves humans.


How Does the Scoring Work?

To score the MAAS, a mean of the 15 items (collected in a Likert scale) is calculated. For those who may not be mathematically minded, the mean equals the sum of the answers divided by the total number of questions (15). Higher scores reflect higher levels of dispositional mindfulness. With these higher scores also come lower reported negative emotional states.

Average scores for undergraduate students in the research were 3,85. Zen meditators scored an average of 4,38. Statistically, those who actively participated in mindfulness activities reportedly had fewer and less intense instances of negative emotional experience. Also, a study done on people living with cancer showed that those awake to their mortality increase the moment-to-moment appreciation of their lives.


A Look at the Validity and Reliability of the MAAS

Any self-report measurement allows for the difficulty in accuracy. Though the scale requests that the participant reflects on their experiences as they are, rather than how they think they should be, humans tend to answer inaccurately where subjective experience is concerned. It is exceedingly difficult to measure “present” state in a “post” state manner.

A deeper understanding of mindfulness and its role in self-determination theory has been helpful in many different areas, including but not limited to the adherence to medical recommendations.

Validation of the scale’s usefulness in a cancer patient study showed improved well-being in patients more attuned to their internal and external experience. Facing mortality allows for increased mindfulness practice and with-it adherence to suggested treatments.

The scale has been validated among college students, community adults, and cancer patients, and it has been translated into at least five different languages.

It has also been adapted to consider adolescent and child perspective, as there is burgeoning research in the field of childhood interventions in mindfulness practice (Brown, 2011). Benefits in teaching children and adolescents mindfulness activities are far-reaching and incredibly effective.

Having this scale validated in many different areas has led to further research and vital development of positive psychology interventions. Adhering to the basic scientific principle that a phenomenon can be studied only if it can be adequately defined and measured, gives a more significant validation to the field of mindfulness and consciousness as a significant area of further scientific study.


Where Can I Find the Questionnaire Online? (PDF)

Here is a link to the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale for adults, plus we have more mindfulness questionnaires and scales on our own blog for you to enjoy.


A Take-Home Message

The Mindful Awareness Attention Scale has advanced research in positive psychology, social psychology, and child psychology since 2003.

More exciting research is being done within self-determination theory and human motivation to provide further measurable science to develop continued interventions and improvement in human beings. The more we know about the construct, the more effective the practice of mindfulness can become.

More conscious humans in the world will create a better world. When people are more aware of their internal experience, their motivation, and their personal ability to show up exactly as they want will create ripples in the humans around them. We, as practitioners, have the science at our fingertips and can utilize the MAAS as a baseline to create change.

Thanks for reading!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our 3 Mindfulness Exercises for free.

If you wish to learn more, Mindfulness X© is our 8-module mindfulness training package for practitioners which contains all the materials you’ll need to not only enhance your mindfulness skills but also learn how to deliver a science-based mindfulness training to your clients, students, or employees.


  • Brown, Ryan 2003 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
    2003, Vol. 84, No. 4, 822–8480022-3514/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822
  • Brown, K. W., West, A. M., Loverich, T. M., & Biegel, G. M. (2011). Assessing adolescent mindfulness: Validation of an Adapted Mindful Attention Awareness Scale in adolescent normative and psychiatric populations. Psychological Assessment, 23(4), 1023–1033. doi:10.1037/a0021338

About the Author

Kelly Miller is a graduate of the Flourishing Center’s CAPP program and published author of Jane's Worry Elephant. She is currently the owner of A Brighter Purpose, LLC, a provider in positive psychology coaching services. When she isn’t gleefully helping humans move toward flourishing, she enjoys National Park hikes and spending quality time with her adventurous family.


  1. aaiza

    hi, i used this scale and found out that the mean is 2.93. what is the highest possible score with which i can compare my results?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Aaiza,

      Given that responses are on a scale ranging from 1-6, when you calculate your mean, the maximum possible score you can have is 6. But I may have misunderstood your question, so let me know if I can clarify!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

  2. Dzar

    what are the advantages and disadvantages of MAAS?

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Dzar,
      I’d say the upsides are that the scale has been rigorously validated and isn’t too long and time intensive. One downside is that the scale is unidimensional, and some scholars are of the opinion that mindfulness is multidimensional (see Bergomi et al., 2013 for an alternative scale).
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  3. Jennifer Foss

    This is a really great article and the study that you suggested was also excellent. I am working on my DNP and my project is on mindfulness. Any idea where I can find find permission to use the tool for free? Everything that I have found has a fee attached to it.

    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Jennifer,
      I believe this scale is available for free (I have used it in my research). Just ensure you cite the creators.
      – Nicole | Community Manager

  4. DMV

    Great article, please can you provide information on how to interpret the score? Is there a scoring table? Since the highest score being 90 and lowest being 15. What’s the average? How can we know where we lie on the maas scale? It’s for my project purpose.
    Thank you

    • Kelly Miller, BA, CAPP

      The scoring simply says the higher, the more mindful. Here is the text taken on the MAAS scoring itself.
      MAAS Scoring: To score the scale, simply compute an average of the 15 items. The higher the score, the more present you are on a regular basis.

  5. Alex

    Hi Kelly,
    Fantastic article! I’m currently doing a research project for my undergraduate in Psychology on Mindfulness. I was wandering where you found the statistic referring to average scores for students and zen bhuddists? I’ve used the MAAS in my study and would like to talk about these data in relation to my findings 🙂

    • Kelly Miller, BA, CAPP

      Hi Alex. If you’re looking for more info on mindfulness and Zen buddhists, I suggest this study
      The MAAS is self report, but this study shows brain imaging, which is a more powerful test to show efficacy of meditation. Hope this helps.

  6. Rick Barber

    Hi Kelly,
    Can you explain the range of the Results after dividing by 15, please…
    So we know to explain the Results to others.
    Thanks you!

    • Kelly Miller, BA, CAPP

      Hey Rick. The results are meant to reflect dispositional mindfulness. This is a “keen awareness of thoughts and feelings in the present moment.” The higher the score on the MAAS, the higher the dispositional mindfulness. This score is not fixed, as with practice, this score will rise. If you read through the questionnaire, there are everyday experiences that many “float” through without conscious awareness. The higher the score, the higher the consciousness in a moment to moment state. I hope this helps.

  7. Muntaha Fatima

    hey Ms Miller, how can I seek permission from author to use this tool for my research purpose?

    • Annelé Venter

      Hey Muntaha
      I’d suggest you reach out to Virginia Commonwealth University where Kirk Brown is an Associate Professor, or alternatively the Australian Catholic University in North-Sydney for Richard Ryan.

  8. Saima

    How can we compute score .please tell me method ?

    • Kelly Miller, BA, CAPP

      Hi there. There is a section on scoring. It is the mean of the 15 items. Hope this helps.

  9. Lori English

    A great article and thanks for sharing it’s very informative and mindfulness is so important for having a pure presence.

    • Kelly Miller, BA, CAPP

      So glad you enjoyed it. Mindfulness is so important, you’re right about that.

  10. Talha

    Which model of mindfulness was used for this scale?

    • Kelly Miller, BA, CAPP

      As I understood it, this scale was developed to explore trait mindfulness and the ability to reduce stress.

  11. diana

    Hi Kelly, isn’t there a range of scores?
    Since, as the MAAS-En scale says, higher scores reflect higher levels of dispositional attention. So what is the level from which it is considered high level?

    • Kelly Miller

      I don’t believe there is a “threshold” for determining what is the higher level. The general scoring shows higher means for individuals actively engaging in mindful actives, such as meditation. Zen meditators scoring averages closer to 5 on the scale, show higher levels of their dispositional attention. Hopefully this answers your question.

  12. Tim Goerz

    Thank you for this. Much appreciated.

    • Kelly Miller

      Tim my pleasure! I’m pleased that the article served you.

  13. Kelly Miller

    Thanks Sherry! Glad the information serves you.

  14. Nilofer Arshad

    Very informative. Thank you

    • Kelly Miller

      My pleasure! So pleased you found it helpful.

  15. Sherry

    I love these ideas and techniques. very beneficial.


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