Loving-Kindness Meditation Increases Social Connectedness

Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-2130, USA.
Emotion (Impact Factor: 3.88). 11/2008; 8(5):720-4. DOI: 10.1037/a0013237
Source: PubMed


The need for social connection is a fundamental human motive, and it is increasingly clear that feeling socially connected confers mental and physical health benefits. However, in many cultures, societal changes are leading to growing social distrust and alienation. Can feelings of social connection and positivity toward others be increased? Is it possible to self-generate these feelings? In this study, the authors used a brief loving-kindness meditation exercise to examine whether social connection could be created toward strangers in a controlled laboratory context. Compared with a closely matched control task, even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward novel individuals on both explicit and implicit levels. These results suggest that this easily implemented technique may help to increase positive social emotions and decrease social isolation.

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Available from: Cendri A Hutcherson,
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    • "Love (not desire) influences bonding (Gonzaga et al. 2006) and feelings of warmth and closeness (Fitness and Fletcher 1993) in relationships. Notably, research has found loving-kindness meditation to heighten feelings of connection toward novel people at both explicit and implicit levels (Hutcherson, Seppala, and Gross 2008). "
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    • "This diffuse effect may not have been measurable due to the short-term nature of our intervention. Finding a specific effect of LKM is notable in the context of previous work on the subject, where it has been unclear to what extent implicit positive appraisals extend beyond the person who is the target of meditation (Hutcherson et al. 2008). Presently, we have shown that the effects of LKM appear to extend at least to the target's racial group. "

    Motivation and Emotion 09/2015; DOI:10.1007/s11031-015-9514-x · 1.55 Impact Factor
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    • "These early findings are promising and support the notion that LKM might be well suited for reducing negative affect and enhancing positive affect in individuals with emotion dysregulation [12]. This is consistent with results from experimental studies suggesting that LKM decreases anxiety and stress [20], positively influences emotional responses to neutral stimuli [18], and promotes positive emotions, such as trust, love, hope, and compassion [19]. Despite this literature, traditional psychotherapy for depression has been primarily focused on decreasing negative affect, whereas strategies to enhance positive affect are rarely considered [26]. "
    Dataset: paper-LKM

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