When experience blinds us to possibilities it hurts our professional abilities and can even lead to cognitive pathologies.
Experience may blind us from recognizing obvious solutions to problems. Research shows that physicians and health care professionals are likely to overlook the correct diagnosis in cases which do not match their experience . Similar findings have been reported concerning difficulties in reframing clinical situations as experienced by healthcare professionals , , and difficulties of managers and decision makers in replacing existing procedures with new, improved and simpler ones . This “blinding” to novel solutions may be considered a form of cognitive rigidity, which has commonly been defined as a resistance to change in beliefs, attitudes or personal habits , or the tendency to develop and perseverate in the use of mental or behavioral sets .
Such cognitive rigidity may play a key role in psychopathlogy (for reviews see , , see also ). It has been closely linked to the inability of suicidal individuals to consider alternatives that may be accessible to another person , , as well as to rumination, a major risk factor of depression . Similar forms of cognitive rigidity were also indicated in obsessions , , alcohol dependence , eating disorders , and Attention Deficit Disorder –. In this paper, we propose that mindfulness meditation may provide a means of decreasing the aforementioned type of cognitive rigidity.