Loving-Kindness meditation has been shown to increase feelings of social connectedness towards novel individuals. However, research has shown that due to differential facial processing of other race faces, humans are more likely to experience empathetic feelings for own race faces than other race faces. For this reason, the current study investigated the effect of Loving Kindness meditation on social connectedness and racial bias. Thirty Caucasian participants completed two blocks of a positivity-rating task in which they rated their feelings of positivity toward novel target faces of Caucasian and African American identities while the EEG was recorded. Between blocks, participants engaged in either a thirteen-minute guided Loving-Kindness meditation or spent thirteen minutes using social media on their phone. Results of the study showed that the meditation intervention significantly improved participant’s feelings of positivity towards others, as was reflected through higher positivity ranking and increased LPP activity. Participants also viewed target faces more holistically and familiarly after taking part in the Loving Kindness meditation, as measured by increased N250 and N170 amplitude. These results were independent of race, demonstrating that the neurological effects of the meditation were not race specific. No significant effects were found in the control condition, demonstrating that social media use is not an effective way to induce social connection. These results expand on our understanding of social connectedness and empathy, and demonstrate how a short meditation intervention can influence the way we perceive and interact with others around us.
Lopez, Colleen M., "Neurological Effects of Loving Kindness Meditation on Social Connection and Racial Bias" (2018). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 7947.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy | Psychological Phenomena and Processes
Meditation, empathy, racial bias, other race effect
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2018 Colleen M. Lopez