A Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Verbal Insight and Social Problem-Solving in University Students





The ability to effectively solve problems is a critical skill for success in academic and professional domains. This study investigated the impact of mindfulness training on problem-solving abilities among university students, with a focus on verbal insight problems and social problems. Sixty male students from the Information Technology Department at Al-Azhar University participated in the study, divided into an experimental group (n=30) that received an 8-week mindfulness-based training program and a control group (n=30). Quantitative measures assessed performance on a researcher-developed verbal insight problem test and the Social Problem-Solving Inventory-Revised (SPSI-R) before and after the intervention. Qualitative data was collected through interviews and focus groups exploring participants' subjective experiences. Results showed a statistically significant improvement in verbal insight problem-solving for the experimental group compared to controls after mindfulness training (p<0.01). However, no significant differences emerged on social problem-solving measured by the SPSI-R. Qualitative findings suggested participants perceived benefits of mindfulness for emotional awareness, cognitive flexibility, and non-judgmental attitudes, which may facilitate insight problem-solving. This mixed-methods study provides empirical support for integrating mindfulness-based interventions in academic programs to enhance cognitive functioning and creative problem-solving capacities among students.


Mindfulness Intervention, Problem-Solving, Social Problems, University Students, Verbal Insight Problems


Baas, M., Nevicka, B., & Ten Velden, F. (2014). Specific mindfulness skills differentially predict creative performance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40(9), 1092-1106. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167214535813

Bowden, E., & Jung-Beeman, M. (2003). Aha! Insight experience correlates with solution activation in the right hemisphere. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 10(3), 730-737.‏ https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03196539

Brown, K., & Ryan, R. (2003). The benefits of being present: Mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822-848. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.84.4.822

Chambers, R., Lo, B., & Allen, N. (2008). The impact of intensive mindfulness training on attentional control, cognitive style, and affect. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 32(3), 303-322. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-007-9119-0

Chiesa, A., Calati, R., & Serretti, A. (2011). Does mindfulness training improve cognitive abilities? A systematic review of neuropsychological findings. Clinical psychology review, 31(3), 449-464.‏ https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2010.11.003

Conley, C. S., Kirsch, A. C., Dickson, D. A., & Bryant, F. B. (2014). Negotiating the transition to college: Developmental trajectories and gender differences in psychological functioning, cognitive-affective strategies, and social well-being. Emerging Adulthood, 2(3), 195-210.‏ https://doi.org/10.1177/2167696814521808

Dekeyser, M., Raes, F., Leijssen, M., Leysen, S., & Dewulf, D. (2008). Mindfulness skills and interpersonal behaviour. Personality and individual differences, 44(5), 1235-1245.‏ https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2007.11.018

Ding, X., Tang, Y., Tang, R., & Posner, M. (2014). Improving creativity performance by short-term meditation. Behavioral and Brain Functions, 10(9), 1-8.‏ https://doi.org/10.1186/1744-9081-10-9

Dow, G. T., & Mayer, R. E. (2004). Teaching students to solve insight problems: Evidence for domain specificity in creativity training. Creativity Research Journal, 16(4), 389-398.‏ https://doi.org/10.1080/10400410409534550

Dyson, R., & Renk, K. (2006). Freshmen adaptation to university life: Depressive symptoms, stress, and coping. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 62(10), 1231-1244. https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.20295

D'Zurilla, T. J., & Nezu, A. M. (2021). Problem-solving therapy. In K. S. Dobson & D. Dozois (Eds.), Handbook of cognitive-behavioral therapies (4rd ed., pp. 197-225). The Guilford Press.

D'Zurilla, T. J., Nezu, A. M., & Maydeu-Olivares, A. (2002). Social problem-solving inventory-revised. Multi-Health Systems.

Gilhooly, K., & Fioratou, E. (2009). Executive functions in insight versus non-insight problem solving: An individual differences approach. Thinking & Reasoning, 15(4), 355-376. https://doi.org/10.1080/13546780903178615

Gilhooly, K., Fioratou, E., & Henretty, N. (2015). Verbal insight revisited. In B. Ross (Ed.), Psychology of Learning and Motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 62, pp. 265-293). Elsevier Academic Press.

Harp, N. R., Freeman, J. B., & Neta, M. (2022). Mindfulness-based stress reduction triggers a long-term shift toward more positive appraisals of emotional ambiguity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 151(9), 2160-2172. https://doi.org/10.1037%2Fxge0001173

Jha, A., Krompinger, J., & Baime, M. (2007). Mindfulness training modifies subsystems of attention. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, 7(2), 109-119. https://doi.org/10.3758/CABN.7.2.109

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2003). Mindfulness-based interventions in context: Past, present, and future. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 10(2), 144–156. https://doi.org/10.1093/clipsy.bpg016

Kang, Y., Gruber, J., & Gray, J. R. (2013). Mindfulness and de-automatization. Emotion review, 5(2), 192-201.‏ https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073912451629

Kounios, J., & Beeman, M. (2014). The cognitive neuroscience of insight. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 71-93. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115154

Lebuda, I., Zabelina, D. L., & Karwowski, M. (2016). Mind full of ideas: A meta-analysis of the mindfulness–creativity link. Personality and Individual Differences, 93, 22-26.‏ https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.09.040

Lippelt, D. P., Hommel, B., & Colzato, L. S. (2014). Focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness meditation: effects on attention, conflict monitoring, and creativity–A review. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 110139.‏ https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01083

Lomas, T., Medina, J. C., Ivtzan, I., Rupprecht, S., & Eiroa-Orosa, F. J. (2017). The impact of mindfulness on the wellbeing and performance of educators: A systematic review of the empirical literature. Teaching and Teacher Education, 61, 132-141.‏ https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2016.10.008

Mednick, S. (1962). The associative basis of the creative process. Psychological Review, 69(3), 220–232. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0048850

Ostafin, B., & Kassman, K. (2012). Stepping out of history: Mindfulness improves insight problem solving. Consciousness and Cognition, 21(2), 1031-1036. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2012.02.014

Rahim, M., Psenicka, C., Polychroniou, P., Zhao, J. H., Yu, C. S., Anita Chan, K., ... & Van Wyk, R. (2002). A model of emotional intelligence and conflict management strategies: A study in seven countries. The International journal of organizational analysis, 10(4), 302-326.‏ https://doi.org/10.1108/eb028955

Rahman, M. (2019). 21st century skill “Problem Solving”: Defining the Concept. Asian Journal of Interdisciplinary Research, 2(1), 64-74. https://doi.org/10.34256/ajir1917

Ren, J., Huang, Z., Luo, J., Wei, G., Ying, X., Ding, Z., Wu, Y., & Luo, F. (2011). Meditation promotes insightful problem-solving by keeping people in a mindful and alert conscious state. Science China Life Sciences, 54(10), 961-965. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11427-011-4233-3

Sathiyaseelan, A., & Balasundaram, S. (Eds.). (2024). Promoting Mindfulness and Well-being with Indian Psychology. IGI Global.‏

Schooler, J., Ohlsson, S., & Brooks, K. (1993). Thoughts beyond words: When language overshadows insight. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 122(2), 166–183. https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.122.2.166

Segal, Z., Williams, M., & Teasdale, J. (2018). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for depression. Guilford publications.‏

Shapiro, S. L., Schwartz, G. E., & Santerre, C. (2002). Meditation and positive psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 632-645). Oxford University Press.

Sio, U., & Ormerod, T. (2009). Does incubation enhance problem solving? A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 135(1), 94–120. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0014212

Smith, B., Ong, C. W., Barrett, T., Bluett, E., Slocum, T., & Twohig, M. (2019). Longitudinal effects of a 2-year meditation and buddhism program on well-being, quality of life, and valued living. Mindfulness, 10, 2095-2109.‏ https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-019-01165-z

Volkaert, B., Wante, L., Van Beveren, M. L., Vervoort, L., & Braet, C. (2020). Training adaptive emotion regulation skills in early adolescents: The effects of distraction, acceptance, cognitive reappraisal, and problem solving. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 44, 678-696.‏ https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-019-10073-4

Zeidan, F., Johnson, S., Diamond, B., David, Z., & Goolkasian, P. (2010). Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 19(2), 597-605. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.concog.2010.03.014




How to Cite

Elbably, Y. ., & Nemt-allah, M. . (2024). A Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Verbal Insight and Social Problem-Solving in University Students. Journal of Palestine Ahliya University for Research and Studies, 3(1), 164–177. https://doi.org/10.59994/pau.2024.1.164