The Cross-cultural Validity of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire Across 16 Countries


Objectives: The goal of the current study was to investigate the universality of the five-factor model of mindfulness and the measurement equivalence of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). Methods: The study used FFMQ data from published and unpublished research conducted in 16 countries (total N = 8541). Using 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 five-facet model with a higher-order mindfulness factor and uncorrelated positive and negative item-wording factors and a five-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. A similar pattern was observed when testing the equivalence of the individual facets; all individual facets failed even tests of metric equivalence. A sample size weighted exploratory factor analysis across cultures indicated that a six-factor solution might provide the best fit across cultures with acting with awareness split into two factors. Finally, both the five- and sixfactor solution showed substantially better fit in more individualistic and less tight cultures. Conclusions: Overall, 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.

Johannes A. Karl
Assistant Professor in Psychology