The limited prosocial effects of meditation: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Ute Kreplin, Miguel Farias, Inti A. Brazil

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

    35 Citations (Scopus)
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    Abstract

    Many individuals believe that meditation has the capacity to not only alleviate mental-illness but to improve prosociality. This article systematically reviewed and meta-analysed the effects of meditation interventions on prosociality in randomized controlled trials of healthy adults. Five types of social behaviours were identified: compassion, empathy, aggression, connectedness and prejudice. Although
    we found a moderate increase in prosociality following meditation, further analysis indicated that this effect was qualified by two factors: type of prosociality and methodological quality. Meditation interventions had an effect on compassion and empathy, but not on aggression, connectedness or prejudice. We further found that compassion levels only increased under two conditions: when the
    teacher in the meditation intervention was a co-author in the published study; and when the study employed a passive (waiting list) control group but not an active one. Contrary to popular beliefs that meditation will lead to prosocial changes, the results of this meta-analysis showed that the effects of meditation on prosociality were qualified by the type of prosociality and methodological quality of the
    study. We conclude by highlighting a number of biases and theoretical problems that need addressing to improve quality of research in this area.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages2403
    Volume8
    Specialist publicationScientific Reports
    PublisherNature Publishing Group
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Bibliographical note

    This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Te images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

    Keywords

    • mindfulness
    • prosocial
    • meta-analysis

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