Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Lizabeth Roemer

Second Advisor

Sarah Hayes-Skelton

Third Advisor

Laurel Wainwright


The present study sought to examine the potential impact of brief mindfulness inductions to enhance exposure and extinction processes in social anxiety. Mindfulness may enhance extinction through increased awareness of multiple conditioned excitors (thereby "overpredicting" the occurrence of an aversive outcome) or by acting as a retrieval cue to mitigate return of fear. Twenty-two participants high in social anxiety were recruited to participate in a series of massed exposures. Latent growth curve analyses revealed that participants who received mindfulness inductions prior to exposure procedures demonstrated enhanced extinction learning as measured by expectancy ratings, but not when measured by distress, state anxiety or willingness. In Study 2, participants who received mindfulness inductions were invited back between 1 and 3 weeks later to examine the potential of mindfulness to act as a retrieval cue to mitigate return of fear. There appeared to be a non-significant return of fear, thereby limiting our ability to examine mindfulness as a retrieval cue. Results are discussed in terms of the basic science of conditioning and extinction.