What is conscientiousness, and how can we use it to better our own daily lives? Dr. Amber Abernathy, assistant professor of psychology at Missouri State University and Mary-Charlotte Bayles Shealy Chair in Conscientious Psychology, focuses her research on the topic and how it can be applied.
“Conscientiousness is one of the big five personality factors,” said Abernathy. “One of the big components of this is responsibility. It’s being orderly and on time, as well as being goal driven.”
By being more responsible, the other traits will fall in line, noted Abernathy.
Meditation and mindfulness
Abernathy recently completed a collaborative study with Dr. Stephen Berkwitz, religious studies department head at Missouri State, who leads a religious course titled “Yoga and Meditation.”
“Dr. Berkwitz uses the course to focus on the history of yoga and meditation,” said Abernathy. “We’re currently working on a grant to add more religious courses, and I mentioned that I am studying meditation as a part of my conscientiousness research.”
Participants in the collaborative study filled out questionnaires and then practiced a set meditation for a week. After they completed the set, they answered another set of questions. Abernathy is currently comparing the two sets to see if there was a significant change in participants’ mindsets.
“Ideally it would be great to see conscientiousness differences and self-regulation,” said Abernathy. “This is very a preliminary study though, so if I can see just a small difference in life satisfaction or relaxation it will still be exciting.”
Abernathy plans on continuing the study using longer periods of time and even measuring cortisol levels to assess stress.