Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can meditation make you a more compassionate person?

Date:
April 1, 2013
Source:
Northeastern University College of Science
Summary:
Scientists have mostly focused on the benefits of meditation for the brain and the body, but a recent study takes a look at what impacts meditation has on interpersonal harmony and compassion.

Scientists have mostly focused on the benefits of meditation for the brain and the body, but a recent study by Northeastern University's David DeSteno, published in Psychological Science, takes a look at what impacts meditation has on interpersonal harmony and compassion.

Several religious traditions have suggested that mediation does just that, but there has been no scientific proof -- until now.

In this study, a team of researchers from Northeastern University and Harvard University examined the effects meditation would have on compassion and virtuous behavior, and the results were fascinating.

This study -- funded by the Mind and Life Institute -- invited participants to complete eight-week trainings in two types of meditation. After the sessions, they were put to the test.

Sitting in a staged waiting room with three chairs were two actors. With one empty chair left, the participant sat down and waited to be called. Another actor using crutches and appearing to be in great physical pain, would then enter the room. As she did, the actors in the chair would ignore her by fiddling with their phones or opening a book.

The question DeSteno and Paul Condon -- a graduate student in DeSteno's lab who led the study -- and their team wanted to answer was whether the subjects who took part in the meditation classes would be more likely to come to the aid of the person in pain, even in the face of everyone else ignoring her. "We know meditation improves a person's own physical and psychological wellbeing," said Condon. "We wanted to know whether it actually increases compassionate behavior."

Among the non-meditating participants, only about 15 percent of people acted to help. But among the participants who were in the meditation sessions "we were able to boost that up to 50 percent," said DeSteno. This result was true for both meditation groups thereby showing the effect to be consistent across different forms of meditation. "The truly surprising aspect of this finding is that meditation made people willing to act virtuous -- to help another who was suffering -- even in the face of a norm not to do so," DeSteno said, "The fact that the other actors were ignoring the pain creates as 'bystander-effect' that normally tends to reduce helping. People often wonder 'Why should I help someone if no one else is?'"

These results appear to prove what the Buddhist theologians have long believed -- that meditation is supposed to lead you to experience more compassion and love for all sentient beings. But even for non-Buddhists, the findings offer scientific proof for meditation techniques to alter the calculus of the moral mind.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northeastern University College of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northeastern University College of Science. "Can meditation make you a more compassionate person?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130401111553.htm>.
Northeastern University College of Science. (2013, April 1). Can meditation make you a more compassionate person?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130401111553.htm
Northeastern University College of Science. "Can meditation make you a more compassionate person?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130401111553.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Kids' Drawings At Age 4 Linked To Intelligence At Age 14

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) A study by King's College London says there's a link between how well kids draw at age 4 and how intelligent they are later in life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Mental, Neurological Disabilities Up 21% Among Kids

Newsy (Aug. 18, 2014) New numbers show a decade's worth of changes in the number of kids with disabilities. They suggest mental disabilities are up; physical ones are down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Fake Weed Wreaks Havoc In New Hampshire

Newsy (Aug. 17, 2014) New Hampshire's governor declared a state of emergency after more than 40 overdoses of synthetic marijuana in one week throughout the state. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins