Posted from archive: 06.06.2013 | by AMRA
Zhang et al. [Personality and Individual Differences] validated the factor structure of the Freiberg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) in a Chinese population, and investigated the effects of trait mindfulness on the job performance of Chinese nuclear power plant operators. The FMI validation study (n=294) yielded a two-factor solution (Presence and Acceptance).
The authors then compared supervisor-rated task performance, safety compliance, and safety participation in two groups of power plant operators: control room operators (CRO) who monitor over 1,000 displays and maintain responsibility for overall reactor safety (a high complexity job), and field operators (FO) who monitor just a few pieces of frontline equipment and have limited decision-making responsibility (a low complexity job).
The authors hypothesized that trait Presence would be an asset for high complexity jobs, but less of an asset for low complexity jobs. Their reasoning was that mindfulness might consume limited cognitive resources that could interfere with speed and efficiency in low complexity jobs. Presence turned out to be positively correlated with CRO (high complexity) task performance, CRO safety participation, and CRO safety compliance, but negatively correlated with FO (low complexity) task performance, and unrelated to either FO safety compliance or participation. Trait Acceptance was unrelated to any of the work performance or safety measures.
This study suggests that mindfulness might aid in vocational tasks involving the processing of multiple streams of information along with complex decision-making responsibilities. However, mindfulness might be less relevant on routine tasks when speed is of the essence and the cost of error is low.
Zhang, J., Ding, W., Li, Y., & Wu, C. (2013). Task complexity matters: The influence of trait mindfulness on task and safety performance of nuclear power plant operators. Personality and Individual Differences, 55(4), 433-439.