How does loving-kindness meditation

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How does loving-kindness meditation

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How does loving-kindness meditation facilitate pro-social decision:Theoretical consideration from current empirical studies




The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Loving-kindness meditation (LKM)LKM is a Buddhist meditation that cultivate pro-social attitudes.Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy, EquanimityGenerally, it concentrates on blessing certain targets“May you be happy… “Imaging light from practitioner to the targets.Practice follow orders from self to others.

Loving-kindness meditation


Empirical researches started from 2005 (Carson et al. 2005) and grows fast recent years (Hofmann et al., 2011; Galante et al., 2014)Emotions (esp. positive emotions)Prosocial Attitudes (e.g. helping behaviors)Other aspects…

Loving-kindness meditation


Our recent systematic review identify 64 empirical studies on LKM, 3 of them involves Game.Leiberg, Klimecki, & Singer, 2011Weng, Fox, Shackman, Stodola, Caldwell, Olson, ... & Davidson, 2013McCall, Steinbeis, Richard & Singer, 2014

LKM and Economic Game


Leiberg, et al. 2011They conducted RCT that compare LKM with memory traing (only 1 day 6 hours, plus additional practice)Pre-post intervention test is a computer game that earning money and also involve helping behaviors (in various conditions: with/without reciprocal; high/low cost...).

LKM and Economic Game


Leiberg, et al. 2011The result showed that helping behaviors increased in LKM group only.Practice time is sig with no-reciprocity help in LKM group.In addition, they found no time*group main or interaction on another dictator game.Such finding indicated that LKM increase Compassion-based helping but not Norm-based helping.

LKM and Economic Game


Weng et al., 2013Intervention of LKM with 30 mins practice per day for 2 weeks, control group is reappraisal skill.Game is redistribution game (post intervention): participant as a third observer in dictator game and adjust the allocation at their cost (cost 1 dollar and move 2 dollar from dictator to victim).Their results found LKM group showed higher altruism behavior in redistribution game, without explicitly application of compassion skill.

LKM and Economic Game


Weng et al., 2013Researchers also scanned the brain activities when participants view video of suffering.The results indicated increased altruism were associated with 3 mechanisms:Understanding others’ suffering.Executive control (focusing on suffering)Up-regulation of positive emotion system (rewarded by others’ well being)

LKM and Economic Game


McCall et al., 2014Comparison between LKM meditators with naive. 3 Dictator Games (one-shot):(1) As victim, can punish the dictators (1:3)(2) As observer, can punish the dictators. (1:3)(3) As observer, can punish the dictators or compensate victims. (1:3)

LKM and Economic Game


McCall et al., 2014(1) Meditator has less punishment when they are victim; but same punishment when they are 3rd party. (2) Meditator also compensate more to victim.(3) Meditator showed less anger in all conditions(4) Meditator having same perception of unfairness with controls, and the association between fairness and punishment is stronger when they are in 2nd condition (punishment only).

LKM and Economic Game


McCall et al., 2014In all, meditator driven lesser by anger, and consider more on solve problems.They consider more the victims in addition to punishment, more focused on rebuild fairness.Authors noted they cannot well explain why 2PP less punishment, maybe other mechinism (tolerance?)

LKM and Economic Game


These 3 studies showed LKM can somehow promote pro-social decision, even at their own cost.Mechanism: they are compassion-driven, lesser angerHow exactly LKM lead to these difference?Emotions can influence decision, but these 3 studies did not induce immediate emotions.

Summary and Future


So, two possible ways:(1) Emotions susceptibility (more easily to activate compassion; meditation based)(2) Cognitive belief (endorse the value of pro-social decision; non-necessary meditation based)Meditator showed lesser punishment as victim.LKM intervention contains not only meditation.

Summary and Future


Additionally, potential methodological issuesExpect effect or demanding effectSelf-selection effect (meditators)Studies in this domain are few, potential conflict (conference)

Summary and Future


Leiberg, S., Klimecki, O., & Singer, T. (2011). Short-term compassion training increases prosocial behavior in a newly developed prosocial game. PloS one, 6(3), e17798.McCall, C., Steinbeis, N., Ricard, M., & Singer, T. (2014). Compassion meditators show less anger, less punishment, and more compensation of victims in response to fairness violations. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 8.Weng, H. Y., Fox, A. S., Shackman, A. J., Stodola, D. E., Caldwell, J. Z., Olson, M. C., ... & Davidson, R. J. (2013) Compassion training alters altruism and neural responses to suffering. Psychological science, 24(7), 1171-1180.



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