#SeminarIRSJD · Addressing Clinical Psychology's WEIRD Problem: The cross-cultural validity of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire across 16 countries



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A great proportion of participants in behavioral science continue to represent the Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD) society, which covers only about 5% of the human population. We need marked progress toward becoming a truly GLOBAL Clinical and Health Psychology. If we are interested in measuring compassion, mindfulness or flexibility, it is crucial to determine whether the instrument scores can be compared across different cultures. In the current study, we investigated the universality of the 5-factor model of mindfulness and the measurement equivalence of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ).

Methods. FFMQ data from 16 countries were collected (total N = 8541). Using Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), different models, proposed in the literature, were fitted. To test the cross-cultural equivalence of the best fitting model, a multi-group confirmatory factor analysis was used. Further, the equivalence of individual facets of the FFMQ and potential sources of non-equivalence was explored.

Results. The best fitting models in most samples were a 5-facet model with a higher-order mindfulness factor and uncorrelated positive and negative item-wording factors and a 5-facet model with a correlated facets and uncorrelated positive and negative item-wording factors. These models showed structural equivalence, but did not show metric equivalence (equivalent factor loadings) across cultures. Given this lack of equivalent factor loadings, not even correlations or mean patterns can be compared across cultures. All individual FFMQ facets failed even tests of metric equivalence.

Conclusions. The FFMQ has conceptual and measurement problems in a cross-cultural context, raising questions about the validity of the current conceptualization of mindfulness across cultures. The results showed that the fit of the FFMQ was substantially better in individualistic cultures that indicate that further data from non-Western cultures is needed to develop a universal conceptualization and measurement of mindfulness.

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