Research: WENK-SORMAZ,

Listed in Issue 125

Abstract

WENK-SORMAZ, Fresh Yoga, New Haven, Connecticut, USA, has hypothesized that meditation reduces habitual responding.

Background

Very little research has investigated the cognitive consequences of meditation. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that meditation leads to a reduction in habitual responding.

Methodology

Studies 1 and 2 each incorporated pre-test and post-test designs with a 20-minute intervening attention task (meditation, rest, or a cognitive control). 120 and 90 undergraduates participated in Studies 1 and 2, respectively. Stroop and Word Production tasks assessed habitual responding, and Galvanic Skin response measured arousal in Study 1. The category generation task assessed habitual responding in Study 2. Tellegen's Absorption Scale (TAS) measured attention ability.

Results

In Study 1, meditation participants showed a reduction in habitual responding on the Stroop task as compared to controls. Study 1 revealed no statistically significant effects in the word production task. Stroop task performance was not mediated by arousal reduction. In Study 2, meditation participants showed a reduction in habitual responding on the category production task. Specifically, when participants generated either typical or atypical items, on average, meditation participants produced more atypical items than controls. Category production performance was not mediated by Tellegen's Absorption Scale (TAS) scores. Overall, high TAS scores were related to atypical responding.

Conclusion

When participants understood that the goal was to respond non-habitually, meditation reduced habitual responding. The ability to respond non-habitually is an important prerequisite to healing and personal growth.

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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