11 Mindfulness Questionnaires, Scales & Assessments For Measuring Awareness

clouds and sun - Mindfulness Questionnaires, Scales & Assessments For Measuring

Mindfulness has been a popular topic at the PositivePsychology.com, with frequent pieces on what mindfulness is, how it has been incorporated into therapy, and ways to practice mindfulness for adults, children, and teens.

For some people, it can take a lot of time and effort to understand what mindfulness is and how to effectively practice it.

The concept of mindfulness, of being fully aware and present in the moment but without any value judgments, worrying, or rumination, can be a tough one to grasp.

I apologize in advance to these people, because the topic of this writing excursion may be even more difficult to wrap your head around: measuring mindfulness.

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking: “How in the world do you measure mindfulness?

It seems like such an ephemeral concept that the idea of trying to take a ruler or a scale to it would be inherently futile. How do you measure the extent to which you are aware of your own thoughts and feelings?

This question posed a challenge for researchers in more ways than one, but a few intrepid souls dared to face the challenge head-on. Consequently, we have some idea of how to go about measuring the presence of mind.

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.

First Challenge: State vs. Trait Mindfulness

The state of mindfulness measures may be considered as an art that is still in its infancy, partly due to the problem of state vs. trait mindfulness (Hill & Labbé, 2014). Without getting too lost in the weeds, the general idea of the state vs. trait problem is that mindfulness can be considered both a state and a trait (Medvedev, Krägeloh, Narayanan, & Siegert, 2017).

 

State

A state refers to a fluid and short-term mindset or frame of reference that we can quickly move in and out of, sometimes by force of will. It is a flexible condition that influences how you perceive the world around you. Examples of other states include feeling hopeful, being interested or curious, and feeling certain about something in your life.

 

Traits

Traits are more permanent facets of personality, characteristics that are difficult to change and likely have some basis in genetics. A trait is often an integral part of what makes you who you are. For instance, psychological traits include extraversion, self-esteem, perfectionism, and impulsivity.

While there are some forms of therapy or behavior modification that can affect traits, they generally do not change without concerted effort.

 

State Mindfulness

Regarding mindfulness, state mindfulness refers to a temporary condition in which an individual is aware of their thoughts and feelings and able to stay present when distractions arise.

 

Trait Mindfulness

Trait mindfulness is the more permanent ability to enter a mindful perspective at will, in which an individual recognizes what they are thinking and feeling, accepts them without judgment, and keeps the focus on being present.

 

Unique Challenges in Measuring Mindfulness

When attempting to measure mindfulness, the difficulty arises depending on whether state or trait mindfulness is the target.

 

State Measurement Challenges

When measuring state mindfulness, the challenge originates from the fact that measurement necessarily occurs after the experience.

If there is a way to measure mindfulness in the moment, it certainly has not been discovered yet.

The idea of stopping to measure how mindful you are in a specific moment is anathema to the practice of mindfulness. It is impossible to be both present and fully aware of your experience while taking a survey on your current level of mindfulness. As such, gauging the level of mindfulness experienced must occur after the fact, by having the individual recall their state of mind when practicing mindfulness.

This problem is not unique in psychological measurement – many psychological states suffer from the same post-experience measurement problem – but it is still a challenge nonetheless.

Due to the reliance on measuring mindfulness via survey, it also faces another challenge of many other psychological phenomena: reliance on self-reporting. Humans are generally not highly accurate when recalling events, let alone their thoughts and feelings during an event.

Our memory can play tricks on us, especially if the event we are recalling is far behind us or too similar to events we experience in our everyday lives. Additionally, our current mood or frame of mind can impact how we view our experiences, even fairly recent ones.

Self-report measurements also rely on the individual in question being truthful in their responses. While a certain amount of responses to a survey will always be purposely false, there is also an element of social desirability involved. We frequently answer questions with an idea of what the socially desirable or at least socially acceptable answer is, and we may consciously or unconsciously shift our responses in this direction.

While this does not mean that self-report measures are useless, it does mean we should use caution when considering scores on psychological scales without more objective and quantifiable measurements to bolster our confidence in these scores.

 

Trait Measurement Challenges

Like state measurements of mindfulness, trait measurement also faces the same challenges inherent in a self-report measure.

In addition to these challenges, trait mindfulness is also faced with the obstacle of measuring a psychological construct that manifests in the moment. In other words, it is difficult to assign a score to a trait that is based on the ability to enter a state.

If it seems difficult to measure mindfulness as a state, it may be even more difficult to accurately capture a person’s general tendency to move into that state.

While these challenges have proved daunting for mindfulness research, there are several scales and questionnaires that have been developed in spite of the obstacles. One popular conceptualization of awareness is described below, followed by descriptions of some mindfulness scales that are popular in psychological research and clinical practice.

 

Wheel of Awareness

The Wheel of Awareness is a model of the construct of awareness that some have found very helpful when considering the issue of how to measure mindfulness, of which awareness is a major facet (Siegel, 2007; 2014).

This model has a core, or “hub,” of facets related to awareness (and, in turn, mindfulness). These facets include:

  1. Receptive
  2. Clear
  3. Aware
  4. Open
  5. Peaceful
  6. Calm

These six facets form the foundation of the wheel of awareness, with four “spokes.”

These spokes include:

  • First five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing)
  • Sixth sense (interior of the body)
  • Seventh sense (mental activities)
  • Eighth sense (interconnectedness)

This model is based on the six facets as representative of the experience of awareness, while the spokes outline the things we know that we can become aware of.

These phrases and terms, including “awareness,” “open,” “mental activities,” and “interconnectedness” will feel familiar when considering the mindfulness measures described below, as the wheel is a relatively comprehensive model of the current view on the potential of mindfulness.

Practicing mindfulness is one way that we can move past the hub and get to the spokes, by recognizing and accepting the stimuli brought into consciousness through one of these senses. This model may be helpful to consider after you engage in a mindfulness practice and reflect back on your experience, as several of the measures described here can help you through.

For more information on the wheel of awareness, click here.

To learn about some of the most widely used measures of mindfulness that could help you or your clients move from the hub through the spokes of awareness, check out the list below.

 

MAAS: The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale

The most popular scale for measuring mindfulness in positive psychology is the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, developed by Kirk Warren Brown and Richard M. Ryan in 2003.

The Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (or MAAS) treats mindfulness as a trait that involves what the authors conceptualize as the two components of consciousness: awareness and attention.

 

Awareness

Awareness is described by Brown and Ryan as a sort of “radar” that operates in the background of our minds and continually scans both the environment outside of ourselves and the state of our internal environment (2003). It’s what allows us to notice things around us without focusing exclusively on them.

 

Attention

Alternatively, attention refers to our ability to focus our awareness on a specific stimulus or stimuli, allowing for a limited but more intense appraisal of our current experience (2003).

 

MAAS

This conceptualization of mindfulness purposefully excludes any reference to attitudes, motivations, or moods, leaving the trait of mindfulness neutral concerning other constructs like happiness or well-being.

The MAAS measures an individual’s tendency to enter a state of mindfulness through the individual’s frequency of having certain experiences related to mindfulness and mindlessness.

It includes 15 statements that respondents rate on how frequently they engage in the activities described, on a scale from 1 = almost always, to 6 = almost never.

For example, respondents are instructed to indicate how often they find themselves doing the following:

  • I break or spill things because of carelessness, not paying attention, or thinking of something else.

  • I tend to walk quickly to get where I’m going without paying attention to what I experience along the way.

  • I find it difficult to stay focused on what’s happening in the present.

  • I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch with what I am doing right now to get there” (Brown & Ryan, 2003).

Scores on these statements are then combined to create an overall score of mindlessness or mindfulness, with higher agreement indicating a lesser tendency to enter into a mindful state, while a lower score indicates a greater tendency towards mindfulness.

This measure was found to be a good measure of mindfulness, with high reliability and moderate-to-strong correlations with the related constructs of reflection, rumination, and self-consciousness, as well as an existing measure of mindfulness.

Researchers generally agree that the MAAS is a valid and reliable method of measuring mindfulness, and it is both simple to score and easy to interpret.

If you’re interested in completing the MAAS, you can find it here.

 

Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire

The next most utilized measure of mindfulness is the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, a trait mindfulness measure developed by Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, and Toney in 2006.

The five facets the authors refer to can be described as follows:

  • Nonreactivity to inner experiences.
    This facet refers to an individual’s ability to remain calm and objective when faced with thoughts or feelings that may usually elicit emotional responses.

  • Observing/noticing/attending to sensations/perceptions/thoughts/feelings.
    This facet is self-explanatory, covering an individual’s tendency to be aware of and recognize their thoughts and feelings.

  • Acting with awareness/automatic pilot/concentration/nondistraction.
    The third facet concerns an individual’s ability to stay present and aware in the moment while ignoring or sidestepping potential distractions.

  • Describing/labeling with words.
    Facet four refers to an individual’s capacity to recognize and label the thoughts and feelings they experience.

  • Nonjudging of experience.
    The final facet involves the tendency towards objective consideration of thoughts and feelings and the rejection of assigning value to these thoughts and feelings.

The Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) measures these facets with statements like:

  • Usually when I have distressing thoughts or images, I ‘step back’ and am aware of the thought or image without getting taken over by it” (Nonreactivity facet).

  • I notice visual elements in art or nature, such as colors, shapes, textures, or patterns of light and shadow” (Observing facet).

  • I get so focused on the goal I want to achieve that I lose touch with what I am doing right now to get there” (“Actaware” facet – reverse scored).

  • When I have a sensation in my body, it’s difficult for me to describe it because I can’t find the right words” (Describe facet – reverse scored).

  • When I have distressing thoughts or images, I judge myself as good or bad, depending on what the thought/image is about” (Nonjudge facet – reverse scored; Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006).

Respondents rate their agreement that these statements represent their personality or general tendencies on a scale from 1 = never or very rarely true to 5 = very often or always true (Baer et al., 2006).

This scale has also generally been considered valid and reliable by other researchers, and scores on this measure were found to correlate highly with the related constructs of openness to experience, emotional intelligence, and self-compassion (Baer et al., 2006).

If you’d like to see your score on the FFMQ, follow this link.

 

Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised

The Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale was first developed in 2005 by Kumar, Feldman, and Hayes. It was subsequently reviewed and revised in 2007 by Feldman, Hayes, Kumar, Greeson, and Laurenceau into the Cognitive and Affective Scale of Mindfulness-Revised (CAMS-R).

The CAMS-R takes a multi-dimensional view of mindfulness as a broad construct that includes four components:

  • Attention
  • Present-focus
  • Awareness
  • Acceptance (Feldman et al., 2007)

This scale measures trait mindfulness by agreement with 12 statements pertaining to each of the four sub-components, such as

  • It is easy for me to concentrate on what I am doing.” (Attention component)
  • I am able to focus on the present moment.” (Present-focus component)
  • I can usually describe how I feel at the moment in considerable detail.” (Awareness component.)
  • I am able to accept the thoughts and feelings I have.” (Acceptance component; Feldman et al., 2007)

Some items are reverse-scored (“I am preoccupied with the future,” “I am easily distracted,” and “I am preoccupied with the past.”), but the rest are scored in the same manner that they are posed, on a scale from 1 = rarely/not at all, to 4 = almost always. Higher scores in each subscale represent higher levels of each subcomponent, which provide an overall score of trait mindfulness when taken together.

Like the FFMQ, this measure also correlates as expected with mindfulness as measured by the MAAS (positively), worry (negatively), rumination (negatively), and cognitive flexibility (positively), among other constructs (Feldman et al., 2007).

The consensus on the revised CAMS is that it effectively captures a multi-component measurement of mindfulness and can be relied upon to relate with other measures as expected.

If you’d like to test your own score with the CAMS-R, use this link.

 

Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory

Researchers Walach, Buchheld, Buttenmüller, Kleinknecht, and Schmidt created the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory in 2006 when they found that no other measure of mindfulness captured the construct as they conceptualized it.

Walach and colleagues hewed closely to the Buddhist idea of mindfulness, and as such the Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) is considered to be a heavily qualitative rather than quantitative measure.

Their view of mindfulness can be summarized as a process of regulating one’s attention with the aim of approaching experiences with an open and nonjudgmental awareness, as well as curiosity and openness to the experience (Walach et al., 2006).

This perspective is similar to other views on mindfulness, but encompasses more of the mindful experience than some other measures, especially with the addition of curiosity as an important piece of mindfulness.

The Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) measures mindfulness as a unidimensional construct (or one component on its own, without multiple subcomponents or facets) via 14 statements rated on how well they describe the respondent, from 1 = rarely, to 4 = almost always (Walach et al., 2006).

Example statements include:

  • I sense my body, whether eating, cooking, cleaning or talking.”
  • I see my mistakes and difficulties without judging them.”
  • In difficult situations, I can pause without immediately reacting.”
  • I experience moments of inner peace and ease, even when things get hectic and stressful.”

The validity of this scale was confirmed through its moderate to strong correlations with measures of self-awareness and self-knowledge.

The authors are careful to note that this scale should not be split up into subscales, but the overall score should be considered a general representation of trait mindfulness. There may be multiple dimensions to mindfulness, but they are interrelated and cannot or should not be teased apart.

A longer version of the FMI exists in a 30-item scale, but evidence shows that the shorter 14-item scale will suffice for use in research and clinical practice.

If you’d like to test your own mindfulness score according to the FMI, you can find it here.

 

Langer Mindfulness Scale

The Langer Mindfulness Scale was developed by Pirson, Langer, Bodner, and Zilcha-Mano in 2012 to capture a measure of mindfulness that incorporated a socio-cognitive perspective. These researchers noticed that many mindfulness measures suffered from a lack of clarity or empirical support, and set out to create a more precise and structured measure.

They conceptualized mindfulness as a construct with four defining characteristics:

  • Novelty seeking – the quality which encourages individuals to see each situation as an opportunity to learn and grow
  • Engagement – the characteristic of noticing and interacting with the environment, with special attention to the small details others might miss
  • Novelty producing – an individual high in novelty producing tends to gather new information to better relate to their current environment
  • Flexibility – a flexible individual is open to making changes that allow for greater adaptability in the environment

The Langer Mindfulness Scale (LMS) Pirson and colleagues developed to measure this multi-component construct consists of 21 or 14 items (depending on the version) rated on a scale from 1 = strongly disagree, to 7 = strongly agree.

Example questions for each subcomponent are as follows:

Novelty seeking “I like to figure out how things work.”

Engagement “I seldom notice what other people are up to.” (This question is reverse-scored)

Novelty producing “I try to think of new ways of doing things.”

Flexibility “I have an open mind about everything, even things that challenge my core beliefs.”

Ratings on these items are then added together to create a score for each subscale and an overall mindfulness score. Higher scores indicate higher levels of novelty seeking, engagement, novelty producing, flexibility, and mindfulness in general.

This scale is regarded as both valid and reliable, and scores on the LMS have been found to correlate with well-being and related aspects of well-being, such as life satisfaction, flexibility, job satisfaction, creativity, learning, and humor (Pirson et al., 2012).

If you’d like to give the LMS a try, you can find more information on the scale or request it here.

 

Solloway Mindfulness Survey

The Solloway Mindfulness Survey is not necessarily a trait mindfulness measure, nor is it a state mindfulness measure. It falls somewhere in between the two poles on the spectrum from state to trait.

This survey was developed to measure mindfulness from the perspective of mindfulness as a skill set or capacity to practice; a semi-state in that it is changeable but more trait-like in that it is relatively stable unless knowledge and practice are actively pursued.

This Solloway Mindfulness Survey (SMS) was created in 2007 by Solloway and Fisher, Jr. for the purpose of tracking the progress of mindfulness students as they learn about mindfulness and begin to engage in the practice.

The SMS consists of 30 items that the respondent provides an indication of their agreement with, on a scale from 1 = absolutely disagree, to 8 = absolutely agree.

Some example items include:

  • “I notice that I experience a kind of happiness that’s different.”
  • “I observe the way things constantly change from moment to moment.”
  • “Mindfulness teaches me to experience the world in an entirely new way.”
  • “Mindfulness makes me feel thankful for things I usually take for granted.”

The responses to these items are added together to calculate a total score. The higher the score, the more effective knowledge and experience the respondent has about mindfulness.

This is a great way to track your progress or a client’s progress through a long-term attempt to be more mindful. You can take this survey once before beginning a mindfulness practice (or a new mindfulness practice, or a more intensive mindfulness practice, etc.), and continue to complete it at periodic points in time throughout your mindfulness journey.

The changes between the first survey score and the last can give you an idea of how much you are learning about and connecting with the practice of mindfulness. If you are giving your full attention to the schedule of mindfulness practice you set for yourself, you should see an automatic increase in your score as well.

To learn more about the Solloway Mindfulness Survey and decide whether it would be helpful for you or your clients, see Solloway and Fisher, Jr.’s paper introducing and validating this survey (Solloway & Fisher, Jr., 2007; cited in the references list below).

If you would like to use this survey, you can find it here.

 

Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills

Another mindfulness scale that comes from a skill-based perspective is the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills. This scale was developed to measure four mindfulness related skills, as well as an overall tendency to be mindful during daily life (Baer, Smith, & Allen, 2004).

The developers of the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) were particularly interested in creating a scale that even casual meditators and irregular practitioners of mindfulness would be able to complete with ease. Toward this end, they used simple language that would be clear and easily understood by most populations and kept mindfulness “jargon” to a minimum.

The four simple mindfulness skills identified by Baer and colleagues (2004) include:

  1. Observing: this is a common component or facet of mindfulness in virtually every mindfulness scale; it refers to the skill or ability to notice or attend to feelings, thoughts, and sensations in the present moment.

  2. Describing: once you have successfully observed the stimuli in and around you, describing or labeling those stimuli is an important second step in practicing mindfulness; categorizing and understanding the feelings, thoughts, and sensations are necessary for an effective session of mindfulness.

  3. Acting with awareness: mindfulness must include awareness of your present state and environment; acting with awareness means fully engaging in the current activity, rather than cruising on “autopilot” without being mindful of what you are doing.

  4. Accepting (or allowing) without judgment: most mindfulness conceptualizations emphasize the importance of acceptance or being nonjudgmental. While labeling is an important piece in most theories of mindfulness, this does not include labels like “good” or “bad;” instead, the acceptance/non-judgment piece of mindfulness encourages a neutral perspective and an acceptance of what you are thinking or feeling without criticism of your thoughts and emotions.

To calculate a score for each skill, the developers crafted several statements relating to each component. These statements are rated by respondents on a scale from 1 = never or very rarely true, to 5 = almost always or always true.

The following items are examples from each skill subscale:

Observe skill (12 items) “I notice visual elements in art or nature, such as colors, shapes, textures, or patterns of light and shadow.

Describe skill (8 items) “I’m good at thinking of words to express my perceptions, such as how things taste, smell, or sound.”

Act with awareness skill (10 items) “When I’m working on something, part of my mind is occupied with other topics, such as what I’ll be doing later, or things I’d rather be doing.” (reverse-scored)

Accept without judgment skill (9 items) “I tend to make judgments about how worthwhile or worthless my experiences are.” (reverse-scored)

The scores for each subscale are calculated to provide an indication of the respondent’s skill in each area, while the overall mindfulness skill score is calculated using all 39 items. Higher scores indicate higher skill for each area and for mindfulness overall.

This scale was found to have positive associations with emotional intelligence and life satisfaction, and negative associations with experiential avoidance, psychological symptoms, and neuroticism (Baer et al., 2004). These associations were generally consistent with predictions, and provide evidence that this scale measures mindfulness as the authors intended.

To find out how you measure up on these mindfulness skills, you can find the KIMS here.

 

Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire

The Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire (ATQ) is quite a bit different from the mindfulness measures outlined here, in that it measures automatic negative thoughts related to depression. This scale could be considered a measure of mindlessness as opposed to mindfulness.

It was developed by Hollon and Kendall in 1980, making it the oldest measure described in this article. They noticed a lack of attention to the extent that cognitive processes change in individuals suffering from depression, and created the ATQ to address this issue.

The ATQ measures how cognitive processes are disrupted in depressed individuals, especially the disruptions that stem from the inability to suppress or regulate automatic thoughts that are negative in tone or distressing in some way.

There are 30 items in the ATQ, including:

  • “My life’s not going the way I want it to.”
  • “What’s the matter with me?”
  • “There must be something wrong with me.”
  • “I can’t finish anything.”

Respondents rate how often they experience these upsetting thoughts on a scale from 1 = not at all, to 5 = all the time.

If you suffer from depression and would like to get an estimate of how much you struggle with automatic negative thoughts, you can find the ATQ in this packet on page 45.

 

How to Measure Present Moment Awareness

We’ve discussed the many measures of trait mindfulness and one measure of what could be considered trait mindlessness, but we are still left with the question of how to measure state mindfulness.

This is a tricky area, as noted earlier. However, it is certainly possible.

The two-state mindfulness measures described below both approach the measurement of state mindfulness as a sort of reflection on a recent session of mindfulness practice.

The consideration of respondents is purposefully limited to a recent event in order to ensure that the measure captures a particular state instead of an individual’s tendency towards mindfulness.

It is important to only consider one mindfulness practice when measuring state mindfulness, as this construct is intended to capture the fleeting and ultimately temporary state of mind that mindfulness practice evokes (Medvedev et al., 2017).

If you are interested in finding out the general level of mindfulness you experienced during a recent mindfulness practice session, check out the three scales described below. For maximum measurement validity, try to complete these scales as soon as possible after a mindfulness session so your experience is fresh.

 

Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale

This scale was designed specifically to answer the question of how to measure mindfulness when described as present moment awareness and acceptance. The Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale was developed in 2008 by researchers Cardaciotto, Herbert, Forman, Moitra, and Farrow.

The Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale (PHLMS) focuses on mindfulness as a bi-dimensional construct, composed of present-moment awareness and acceptance of the present state.

Some research has suggested that these two components are strong and independent factors of mindfulness, and thus should be considered two components for the purpose of measuring mindfulness.

This scale consists of 20 items rated on a scale of 1 = never, and 5 = very often. Respondents are instructed to indicate how often they experience the phenomena described in these items. A higher overall score indicates a higher level of state mindfulness, while a higher score in either subscale (present-moment awareness and acceptance) indicates a higher level of either present-moment awareness or acceptance, respectively.

Some sample items from the PHLMS include:

  • When talking with other people, I am aware of their facial and body expressions.”
  • “When I walk outside, I am aware of smells or how the air feels against my face.”
  • “If there is something I don’t want to think about, I’ll try many things to get it out of my mind.”
  • “When talking with other people, I am aware of the emotions I am experiencing” (Cardaciotto et al., 2008).

Through scale development and validation, Cardaciotto and colleagues found that this measurement of mindfulness correlated with the MAAS (positively) and with symptoms and signs of psychopathology (negatively), as expected.

The PHLMS was also validated using another sample and found to be both a reliable and valid scale for measuring mindfulness as they describe it, although they recommended it more strongly for research than use in clinical psychology at the time of publication.

To get an idea of what your score would be on the PHLMS, click on this link to find a copy of the scale and instructions for completing it.

 

State Mindfulness Scale

This scale, one of the scales intended to measure state mindfulness, was created by Tanay and Bernstein in 2013 and has been cited in positive psychological research. The State Mindfulness Scale (SMS) was designed to address the lack of state mindfulness measurements in psychological literature and is based on the MAAS (Brown & Ryan, 2003).

The creators of the SMS designed the scale to reflect a conceptualization of mindfulness as a two-component construct, comprised of:

  1. Attention self-regulation, relative to one’s immediate experience, which facilitates increased recognition of present thoughts and feelings.
  2. An orientation to the present that involves curiosity, openness, and acceptance (Tanay & Bernstein, 2013)

This conceptualization reflects a mixture of the traditional Buddhist perspective and more modern ideas about mindfulness. Most current measures of mindfulness consider it a unidimensional trait, or a trait that is whole by itself.

In contrast, the traditional Buddhist perspective on mindfulness involves five qualities:

  • Awareness
  • Perceptual sensitivity to stimuli
  • Deliberate attention to the present moment
  • Intimacy or closeness to one’s subjective experience
  • Curiosity

Tanay and Bernstein created a measure that touches on both philosophies, intended to satisfy both scientists and traditional practitioners and teachers of mindfulness meditation.

The SMS contains 23 statements for respondents to rate for relevance to their practice in a limited period of time (e.g., last 15 minutes, last hour). Respondents indicate how well each statement describes their recent experience on a scale of 1 = not at all, to 5 = very well

A few sample items:

  • “I tried to pay attention to pleasant and unpleasant sensations.”
  • “I noticed various sensations caused by my surroundings (e.g., heat, coolness, the wind on my face).”
  • “I changed my body posture and paid attention to the physical process of moving.”
  • “I clearly felt what was going on in my body physically.”

The SMS did not correlate strongly with the MAAS since it is meant to capture state mindfulness instead of trait mindfulness, but it did correlate strongly with the Toronto Mindfulness Scale, another measure of state mindfulness (Tanay & Bernstein, 2013).

This scale may be particularly beneficial if you would like to measure your level of mindfulness in a particular recent mindfulness session. To learn more about the SMS or to give it a try, follow this link for more information.

 

Toronto Mindfulness Scale

The only other state mindfulness measure on this list is the Toronto Mindfulness Scale (TMS). This scale is one of the earliest mindfulness scales based on mindfulness as a state. It was developed in 2006 by Lau and his fellow researchers to measure mindfulness in those actively practicing it.

They based their scale on the conceptualization of mindfulness as “an intentional, reflective style of introspection or self-observation that…differs from concentrative meditation” in that the focus of attention is unrestricted (Lau et al., 2006, p. 1448).

The TMS consists of 2 subscales, the curiosity subscale, and the decentering subscale. Altogether, the TMS includes 13 statements rated on a scale from 0 = not at all, to 4 = very much.

These are a few examples of items on the TMS:

  1. “I was curious about what I might learn about myself by taking notice of how I react to certain thoughts, feelings or sensations.”
  2. “I was more invested in just watching my experiences as they arose than in figuring out what they could mean.”
  3. “I was curious about what I might learn about myself by just taking notice of what my attention gets drawn to (Lau et al., 2006).”

As the authors expected, the curiosity subscale was related to absorption, internal awareness, and self-consciousness, while the decentering subscale was related to awareness of surroundings, self-awareness, and openness to experience. These correlations provide evidence that the TMS measures what it is intended to measure.

This scale may be most helpful to those who would like to get an idea of their mindfulness level during a recent mindfulness practice. To give the TMS a try, click here.

 

A Take-Home Message

Practicing mindfulness is a very personal experience, and you should only proceed with using these scales if you are prepared to reflect, consider and truthfully answer the questions involved.

We encourage our readers to try something new that may contribute meaningfully towards your mindfulness practice or that of your clients.

If you are curious about any of the measurements outlined above, please give one scale a try. You may learn something new about yourself and your ability to enter a state of mindfulness.

At the very least, you will get an idea of how pervasive mindfulness practice has been in your life, and to what extent you are engaging in mindfulness through regular practice.

As is the case with so many tips, techniques, and exercises we write about, the real questions here are:

  1. What do you have to gain by giving it a shot?
  2. What harm can come about from trying it out?

What do you think? Will you choose a scale and give it a try, whether for use by you personally or by your client(s)? Feel free to post your scores or comment about your experience in the comments section below.

Thank you for joining us in this exploration in measuring mindfulness.  We wish you an excellent day full of peace and awareness, whether you measure it or not!

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.

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  • Brown, K.W. & Ryan, R.M. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 822-848.
  • Cardaciotto, L., Herbert, J. D., Forman, E. M., Moitra, E., & Farrow, V. (2008). The assessment of present-moment awareness and acceptance: The Philadelphia Mindfulness Scale. Assessment, 15, 204-223.
  • www.drdansiegel.com
  • Feldman, G., Hayes, A., Kumar, S., Greeson, J., & Laurenceau, J. P. (2007). Mindfulness and emotion regulation: The development and initial validation of the Cognitive and Affective Mindfulness Scale-Revised (CAMS-R). Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 29(3), 177.
  • Fernandez, A. C., Wood, M. D., Stein, L. A. R., & Rossi, J. S. (2010). Measuring mindfulness and examining its relationship with alcohol use and negative consequences. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 24, 608-616.
  • Hill, B. D., & Labbé, E. E. (2014). Psychology of Meditation. Hauppauge, NY, US: Nova Science Publishers.
  • Hollon, S. D., & Kendall, P. C. (1980). Cognitive self-statements in depression: Development of an automatic thoughts questionnaire. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 4, 383-395.
  • Lau, M. A., Bishop, S. R., Segal, Z. V., Buis, T., Anderson, N. D., Carlson, L., …, & Devins, G. (2006). The Toronto Mindfulness Scale: Development and validation. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62, 1445-1467.
  • Medvedev, O. N., Krägeloh, C. U., Narayanan, A., & Siegert, R. J. (2017). Measuring mindfulness: Applying generalizability theory to distinguish between state and trait. Mindfulness 8, 1-11.
  • Medvedev, O. N., Siegert, R. J., Feng, X. J., Billington, D. R., Jang, J. Y., & Krägeloh, C. U. (2016). Measuring trait mindfulness: How to improve the precision of the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale using a Rasch model. Mindfulness 7(2), 384-395.
  • Pirson, M., Langer, E. J., Bodner, T., & Zilcha-Mano, S. (2012). The development and validation of the Langer Mindfulness Scale: Enabling a socio-cognitive perspective of mindfulness in organizational contexts. Fordham University Schools of Business Research Paper.
  • Siegel, D. (2007; 2014). Wheel of awareness. Retrieved from www.drdansiegel.com
  • Solloway, S. G., & Fisher, Jr., W. P. (2007). Mindfulness practice: A Rasch variable construct innovation. Journal of Applied Measurement, 8, 359-372.
  • Tanay, G., & Bernstein, A. (2013). State Mindfulness Scale (SMS): Development and initial validation. Psychological Assessment, 25, 1286-1299.
  • Walach, H., Buchheld, N., Buttenmüller, V., Kleinknecht, N., & Schmidt, S. (2006). Measuring mindfulness: The Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI). Personality and Individual Differences, 40, 1543-1555.

About the Author

Courtney Ackerman, MSc., is a graduate of the positive organizational psychology and evaluation program at Claremont Graduate University. She is currently working as a researcher for the State of California and her professional interests include survey research, well-being in the workplace, and compassion.

Comments

  1. Francesca

    Hi Courtney, thank you for the insightful article. I am a final year student about to do my research on the exploration of mindfulness in fashion consumption. May I ask if you have a suggestion of scale to use or research pieces on this area? thank you!

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Francesca,

      Glad you enjoyed the post! That’s a tricky one as it looks like mindfulness in consumption is a fairly new area of research. I’d try reaching out to the authors on this paper to see if you can’t take a look at their scale.

      Best of luck!

      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
  2. Amy Valdez

    Hello Courtney,
    I am a graduate student working on measuring changes in awareness of internal bodily states. The FFMQ has a few questions on feeling the body. Do you know of any other surveys that measure internal awareness? Thank you

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Amy,
      Check out the present awareness sub-scale of Bergomi et al.’s (2013) measure. It includes reference to taste, physical sensations, etc.
      Hope this helps!
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
    • Ernst Jan Hölscher

      Have you looked at the MAIA-2 questionnaire? It assesses 8 different measures of interoceptive awareness, and might just be what you need.

      Reply
  3. Trishla Surana

    Hi
    Im pursuing a research on aesthetic experience and mindfulness. Can you suggest me some material ( books or articles) related to it

    Reply
    • Nicole Celestine

      Hi Trisha,
      Sounds like an interesting research topic. I suspect you might find some helpful pointers in this research article.
      – Nicole | Community Manager

      Reply
  4. Indira Unninayar

    This was great, thank you so much Courtney. I am a practitioner of mindfulness and my co-practitioners and I plan to take mindfulness to people in India. Look forward to using some of these insights and questions to evaluate how effective our course is. Thank you

    Reply
    • Annelé Venter

      Thank you for that link Mike, I have updated it accordingly.

      Reply
  5. Andrea Loescher

    Hi Courtney, do you have info about scales for kids and teens? Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Devavrat Pandey

    Hey Courtney,
    As you mentioned very aptly that questionnaires are not an appropriate instrument to measure something like mindfulness. To address the same issue, I have some query related to its validity.
    I wanted your suggestion on- If I design a set of the activity or some chain of small tasks designed for a day, with the purpose to identify the level of mindfulness, a person was engaged in throughout the day.
    No computer tasks, neither any small half an hour task, but a comprehensive set of activities, involving his mindfulness.
    So how valid would it be? Like do I need to standardize it first? or what else difficulties I might face in publishing my findings using the same?

    Reply
  7. kalyani

    hi
    am a research scholar and currently am working on how mindfulness can enhance Psycap
    kindly suggest me which mindfulness technique i should use for the working employees to enhance their mindfulness and psycap
    Thanks

    Reply
  8. Wendy

    Thank you Courtney and Kai for these comprehensive resource!

    Reply
  9. Hope williams

    Hello there, Courtney, I am a grad student in sport psychology and I liked your article here on mindfulness. It is the topic of my thesis of mindfulness and sports performance. I would love to talk to you some more about what you are doing and how you got there. I am trying to find my place once I am graduated in march. My contact information is below. Have a great day!
    Hope

    Reply
  10. Maheen zahid

    please is it possible for u to provide me the help regarding my research i need a questionnaire in urdu translated form for my topic hope and happiness increases the academic record please reply me fast

    Reply
  11. Alan Bassal

    Thank you Courtney, your article is awesome.
    I teach meditation to teachers of meditation and to have such a comprehensive and well explained list of the various tools available that dimension and measure mindfulness is a gift.

    Reply
  12. Txell

    Hi Courtney,
    Thanks for this article, it has been very useful for me.
    I am trying to find the SMS questionnaire, could you help me?

    Reply
  13. Sai Bhupalam

    Hi Courtney – I am bit late to jump on the bus but wow! These are some really great tools – your work is greatly appreciated. Thank you very much!

    Reply
  14. Missy Post

    Hi Courtney, This is very useful. Do you have any recommendation of a mindfulness scale to use with children and teens?

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Hi Missy, thanks for your comment! I’m happy to hear you found this information helpful.
      The most popular mindfulness scale for children and teens is definitely the CAMM (Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure) from Greco and Baer. You can find the scale here: http://www.ruthbaer.com/academics/CAMM.pdf
      I hope that helps!

      Reply
  15. Denise

    Great article ..really helpful , thank you

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      You’re welcome Denise! Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  16. Stephanie

    Hi Courtney. I am developing an employee wellness program at my office and intend to teach mindfulness and meditation. I would like to survey the participants before and after completing the program to measure if the program had a positive effect on there overall wellbeing. Which scale would you recommend to help illustrate a good measurement of this? I was thinking of maybe doing one of these combined with a stress survey. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Hi Stephanie! That depends–how long is the program? Are you thinking the program will boost their more immediate mindfulness/well-being or do you have reason to believe that the program will have a more long-term impact on their habits or even aspects of their personality?
      If it’s more short-term I might suggest scales on the “state” side of the continuum, while those on the “trait” side would likely be more appropriate for the long-term, fundamental change sort of program.

      Reply
      • Stephanie

        Thank you for your reply and all the info in your article. The pilot project will be short term 60 day participation with the hope that it reveals positive effects on the participants. The hope is to encourage them to make it a long term goal and to continue to practice mindfulness after the pilot. But for research purposes the initial survey will be for the 60 period.

        Reply
        • Courtney E Ackerman

          No problem! For your purposes, I’d recommend going with something in between “pure” state and “pure” trait: the Solloway Mindfulness Survey.
          It was created to measure changes in mindfulness due to a program, so it should work perfectly for you. It is sensitive to shifts in mindfulness attitude and habits, but not so sensitive as to pick up regular moment-to-moment or day-to-day fluctuations in mindfulness. Just make sure you survey them beforehand! Another measure of mindfulness at the 30-day period may be useful too.
          I hope that helps! Best of luck with your project.

          Reply
  17. Kele

    Courtney what are your thoughts on combining scales (MAAS, CAMS -R and LMS) to gain deeper insights? I’m also wondering what exist in terms of recommendations on how to improve ones mindfulness

    Reply
  18. Kele

    Great article and so comprehensive exactly what I was looking for

    Reply
  19. Erik Gunderson

    Well-written and informative. Thank you!
    Also any suggestions for a senior in psychology doing a survey project on mindfulness states?

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Hey Erik, I realize this is a late reply but if you still need any resources for your project, check out the Google spreadsheet put together by another commenter here, Kai Lukoff. It’s a great resource!

      Reply
  20. Jody

    Thanks to both of you! This is so helpful!

    Reply
  21. Kai Lukoff

    Hi Courtney, your article helped saved me several hours as I was researching the different ways that mindfulness has been defined and measured. Thank you! ?
    I also created a public Google Spreadsheet that lists all of the measures, including citation counts. I figured it might be useful as a comparison tool for some others, so I wanted to share it here:
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1b535MGuWN6pLcDdI-rUbdbWNkhvb_YNI3rfcKgl0ZSU/edit#gid=1052838104

    Reply
    • Courtney E Ackerman

      Wow–what a great resource, Kai! Thank you for sharing. I may refer a few of the commenters to it, if you don’t mind.

      Reply
    • Chase

      Thank you for this! I am doing a research paper on measuring mindfulness and this spreadsheet came in handy!

      Reply
  22. Lee

    Thank you for all this incredible info! What recommendations do you have to help someone working on nutrition and wellness? Which of the tests do you believe would give the best assessment for mindful eating?

    Reply
  23. Shockley

    Great measurement tools! I’m a beginning meditator and I want to track my progress in a way that is more specific than: time spent meditating. This list is huge and has so many applications with links to the assessment! You are too generous. Thank you

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks, Shockley! I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece. Happy meditating!

      Reply
  24. Andy

    Have you tried “measuring” via the Sleep Cycle app – you’ll get a graph with a very pronounced effect during mantric meditation. Have you researched what that is? The graph shape is an artifact of how the app infers sleep based on microphone or accelerometer data – but I’ve no idea how to interpret that curve with regards to meditation.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Sounds interesting! I have not researched this phenomenon or measured “sleep” via this app, but I would be very interested to see the results. My uneducated guess is that certain stages or portions of mindfulness meditation look a lot like sleep through a physiological lens. I’m intrigued!

      Reply
  25. Tanya

    Thank you for the information and explaining the difference between the scales. Which of these mindfulness scales would you recommend to measure visitors mindfulness during a visit to a natural area? I want to compare people’s level of mindfulness with connectedness to nature.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Tanya, I’m glad you enjoyed this piece! For measuring mindfulness in the situation you describe, I would probably go with the State Mindfulness Scale (Tanay & Bernstein, 2013). It is a good scale for measuring in-the-moment mindfulness, although you may need to adapt the items just a bit to fit with your nature visit scenario. Alternatively, the Toronto Mindfulness Scale (Lau, 2006) could also be a good fit here with a bit of alteration to item wording.
      I hope that helps! Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  26. Robert Smith

    Superb article with very useful information. I’m curious tosee how I measure on the different scales. I may use one of them in the MBCT courses that I give here in Spain. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks for your comment, Robert! It is always interesting to compare scores on different ways to measure the same thing. Any discrepancies make you wonder how much of the difference is due to error, and how much is due to the scales measuring slightly different constructs.

      Reply
  27. Mark Huerta

    Hi Courtney, thank you so much for putting this together. Having all of the mindfulness instruments in one place is very useful.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m glad you found this piece useful, Mark! I agree, it’s so nice when a wide range of measures are covered in one place – unfortunately, it’s so rare to find that!

      Reply
  28. Tom

    Hi Courtney,
    Thank you for providing a comprehensive and balanced account of the assessments available. Can you make any suggestions for measuring mindfulness in children under the age of 11? I’m looking at the Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM) but I’m aware there are others such as MICA and MAAS-C.
    Many thanks,
    Tom

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Tom, I’m sorry but I think this is where my expertise ends! I’m not very familiar with measuring mindfulness in children, beyond what I covered here or in my last reply. I’m sure a little Googling will help you find the info you’re looking for, though – after all, what CAN’T Google find? 🙂

      Reply
    • Una Keeley

      Hi Courtney
      I am about to begin a year long research study. I will be working with Art Students in Ireland. I am an MBSR Mindfulness Instructor with a Masters in Art education. I will be teaching art students the skills of mindfulness, to support their practice as artists going forward. I just wanted to thank you for your thorough, well considered gathering of Mindfulness Measurement Scales. Having these all in the one place is an absolute treasure trove to find. Thank you so much for your hard work. It is really, really appreciated.
      Warm Regards
      Una
      (http://mindfulnessandcreativity.ie/)

      Reply
      • Courtney Ackerman

        That’s wonderful to hear, Una! I’m so glad you found this piece useful. It’s always nice to have this kind of information gathered into one place, isn’t it? I’d like to put together a sort of master collection of psychology scales and assessments one day – I think it would be immensely helpful for researchers!

        Reply
        • Una Keeley

          Hi Courtney,
          That sounds like a wonderful idea. Go for it …!!!
          You are in a great position to do it. You have a unique understanding of research methods, and there certainly is a need for someone to do it. Your presentation of information is crisp, clean and accessible. There will be a lot of people interested if you do go for it. Sending you good mindful creative vibes from Ireland.
          Warm regards
          Una
          (http://mindfulnessandcreativity.ie/)

          Reply
          • Courtney Ackerman

            Thanks for the encouragement, Una!

  29. Daryl

    Hi Courtney,
    Great article and very helpful! I was hoping for some advice if possible.
    Our company is looking to run a 10 week pilot to see how certain leadership characteristics impact team performance. One of these characteristics is mindfulness. Over the course of the pilot we plan to provide various training and coaching to the leaders and see what the impact is on the overall team.
    I’m looking for a way to measure the team’s mindfulness through out the course of the pilot to see how they trend.Ideally I need the assessment to be quick and easy (so they will actually do it 🙂 ) Do you have any recommendations and a suggestion of how often I should be getting them to do the assessment?
    Sorry for the wall of text and thank you in advance.

    Reply
  30. Alistair

    Hi Courtney. Great article. Very useful.. I had no idea there were so many tools for measuring Mindfulness. Can you kindly provide an up to date links for the TMS and SMS th eones on the article didnt work I’m afraid.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thanks for the heads up! The SMS link works for me, but I’m getting an error for the TMS link. It looks like it may be an issue with the website hosting the page, so I think I’ll take a “wait and see” approach. Try again in a few hours and if it still doesn’t work, let us know!

      Reply
  31. Ruxi Golea

    Hey Courtney, such great compilation! Thank you! I am curious if you have a suggestion on a survey I can use in a big corporation (pre and post the mindfulness 6 week series class). They want to see tangible results of mindfulness related to more focus, presence, money, etc. Thank you in advance, Ruxi (Ruxi_Golea@gmail.com)

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Hi Ruxi, it sounds like there are a few different scales you could use. I would focus on the scales that measure something between trait and state, perhaps closer to the “state” side of things since you’re hoping to see changes over a relatively short period of time. Perhaps the CAMS-R?
      Although, I’m not sure what kinds of changes they are hoping to see regarding money. Mindfulness questionnaires generally don’t ask questions about money, and I’m not sure that there will be many financial changes over such a short period.

      Reply
      • Ruxi Golea

        Thank you, Courtney, for such a speedy reply! I appreciate it! And thank you for your recommendation, too! For this corporation, I need to help them find tangible results in this pilot program, and be able to take it to execs (who don’t know anything on mindfulness). I need to make it a strong enough case so we can implement the program company-wide.
        I will be honest with you, I think I need a miracle :)!

        Reply
        • Courtney Ackerman

          Yes, you just might need a miracle! 🙂
          If they’re looking for concrete results (and aren’t all executives looking for concrete results?), I would try to show that the mindfulness program has improved focus, concentration, well-being etc., in their employees. To connect the changes to concrete results, point them to peer-reviewed evidence that improved focus, concentration, well-being, etc., lead to better job performance. That will likely be easier than searching for improvements in their bottom-line over such a short period of time.
          Good luck!

          Reply
  32. Ru

    Thank you. An excellent article. I am doing some sports mental fitness training at the moment (squash addict!) and my coach had recommended meditation to me. I believe that the various assessments that you provided will help me develop my ‘being in the moment’ and ‘observing’ skill sets in a objective and measureable way. Fab!

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      That’s great to hear! I’m so glad you found this information useful. Squash on!

      Reply
  33. David Matta

    I was looking for such a resource for a while. Thank you for putting all of this together. I found it very useful in helping me prepare for my course.

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      I’m so glad you found it helpful, David! Thanks for letting us know, and good luck with your course!

      Reply
  34. Stef

    Precisely what I have been looking for, a compilation of mindfulness questionnaires enabling students to conduct self-assessment prior and after mindfulness training. I am currently developing a mindfulness online course and this will come handy to demonstrate progress. Thanks, Stef

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Stef, I’m so glad you enjoyed this piece. Measuring mindfulness isn’t easy, but luckily some tenacious researchers have done the legwork for us!

      Reply
      • Stephan Becker

        Indeed 🙂 I am also following up with Mr. Hugo Alberts in regard to interpreting questionnaire scores but I am not too confident that one of the creators of the questionnaires has come up with an interpretation pertaining to self-assessment scores. Thank you for your time anyway Courtney! 🙂

        Reply
  35. Seph Fontane Pennock

    Epic piece Courtney. So glad we can finally offer an overview of all the mindfulness measurement tools that are out there 🙂

    Reply
  36. Rhonda

    Thank you, I found your article comprehensive as well as simple to understand. Extremely useful too in my class preparation. Your ‘take home message’ was insightful too. 🙂

    Reply
    • Courtney Ackerman

      Thank you for your feedback, Rhonda. I’m glad you found it helpful!

      Reply

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