Meditation effects in the social domain
self-other connectedness as a general mechanism?
Recent theories and findings in psychology and neuroscience suggest that self and other are interconnected, both on a conceptual and on a more basic bodily-affective representational level. Such self-other connectedness is supposed to be fundamental to empathy, social bonding and compassion. Meditation techniques – in particular mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation – have been found to foster these social capacities. Therefore, this contribution brings together both fields of research. In a first step, we examine self and other from the perspective of psychology and neuroscience, integrating findings from these fields into a dimension of mental functioning anchored to self-centeredness and self-other-connectedness, respectively. In a second step, we explore how mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation may act differentially upon this dimension. Finally, by referring to a recent experiment from our lab, it is illustrated how research hypotheses can be derived from this framework. Such investigations could help to comprehend meditation effects in the social domain, and more generally, further the scientific understanding of self and other.
Trautwein, F. , Raúl Naranjo, J. , Schmidt, S. (2014)., Meditation effects in the social domain: self-other connectedness as a general mechanism?, in S. Schmidt & H. Walach (eds.), Meditation, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 175-198.
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