Research: WENK-SORMAZ,

Listed in Issue 116

Abstract

WENK-SORMAZ, Fresh Yoga, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, reports that meditation can reduce habitual responding.

Background

Very little research has been done on the effects of meditation on cognitive function. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that meditation leads to a reduction in habitual responses.

Methodology

Two studies were carried out. In study 1, 120 volunteers underwent pre-test and post-test assessment with a 20 min interval in between for meditation, rest, or a cognitive control. Category generation and stem completion tests were used to assess habitual responding, and Galvanic skin response monitored sympathetic arousal. In study 2, 90 volunteers were given the same tasks as in study 1, but only category generation was used to measure habitual responding, and attention ability was measured additionally using Tellegen's Absorption Scale.

Results

Study 1 showed that meditators had a decreased habitual functioning in the category generation task but not the stem completion task compared to controls. This change was not mediated by sympathetic arousal. Study 2 confirmed this result and yielded the additional information that decreased habitual responding went along with increased absorption.

Conclusion

Meditation can reduce habitual responding, and presumably help people respond in a more considered way and with more regard to the actual situation rather than their habitual attitudes.

References

Wenk-Sormaz H. Meditation can reduce habitual responding. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine 11 (2): 42-58, Mar-Apr 2005.

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