Mindfulness/Mental Well-Being

In the last few years, the Dobkins laboratory has been focused on novel approaches for enhancing mental well-being. This line of work is motivated by a desire to ameliorate the rise in stress and depression in society (especially in young people).  We are also interested in comparing effectiveness cross-culturally (specifically, East vs. West).

We have been testing the effects of the following on mental well-being:

  1. Mindfulness Workshops Taught at UCSD.  These are experiential (and playful) workshops created and led by Dr. Dobkins, which has been taught in the USA and Asia. The goal is to help people break free from the limiting concepts and thought patterns that lead to psychological suffering.
  2. IntenSati.  This is a novel workout method, which combines exercise with the power of positive affirmations, shouted in a call-and-response format.
  3. Short-Term Meditation.  In these studies we are investigating the effects of short-term meditation in novices, looking at the effects of having a master present/absent, as well as placebo effects of meditation.
  4. Deep Human Connection.  Using an intervention created by Dr. Dobkins that allows people to simply “be” together, we are investigating whether/how this intervention enhances empathic accuracy, as well as well-being.
  5. Hugging and Touch.  We are investigating the effects of hugging and touch on establishing intimacy and enhancing mental well-being.
  6. Disclosure.  We are looking at how disclosing about traumatic experiences to a trained listener (or through expressive writing) might improve well-being.
  7. Interoception (Body Awareness).   This refers to the ability to sense the physiological condition of the body, including: heart rate and breathing rate, posture, pain, and arousal. We all have an intuition about this sense through our use of phrases such as  “I have a gut feeling” or “My heart is breaking”.   We are interested in how body awareness affects well-being and feelings of connectedness.
  8. Using One’s Signature Strengths on a Daily Basis.  Martin Seligman and colleagues have shown that this intervention improves well-being, however, we are looking at other factors that affect this.

Some relevant presentations from our lab:

Dobkins KR, Ku S, Mak K and Fu A (2018). Principles of Clarity: Effects of a novel mindfulness workshop on improving well-being

Dobkins KR, Guo X, Bobba V and Mingjing M (2018). Is the content of the “inner human experience” related to mindfulness and well-being? An experience sampling study

Dobkins KR, Bondi T (2018). Changes in Well-Being from a 30-minute Meditation: Comparing the Effects of Different Delivery Methods

Bondi T, Dobkins KR (2019). Well-being at UCSD.  Using Mindfulness to decrease loneliness, anxiety and depression

Arnold AA, Dobkins KR (2019). Trust Some BODY: Loneliness is associated with altered interoceptive abilities 

Jago C, Christenfeld N, Dobkins KR (2019). What Women Want vs. What Men Think They Do (manuscript in prep)

Dobkins KR, Bergen H, Henschel, Christenfeld N (2019). The effects of hugging on establishing feelings of intimacy. (manuscript in prep) 


We are fascinated with romantic and non-romantic relationships:  how people view them, and what people expect from them, and what people think is “normal” vs. “weird”.

Current projects include:

  1. What Do Women (and Men) Really Want?  We are investigating how people represent themselves to, and what they want from, a potential romantic partner vs. a friend.
  2. Sexuality.  We are investigating how people view their own sexuality (i.e., behaviors, desires, level of shame) in comparison to percepts of others’ sexuality of the same and opposite genders, as a way of measuring misperceptions about sexuality.