An Analogue Study of Loving-Kindness Meditation as a Buffer against Social Stress
AuthorLaw, Wing Man Rita
respiratory sinus arrhythmia
AdvisorSbarra, David A.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractLoving-kindness meditation (LKM) has the potential to improve intrapersonal and interpersonal functioning. This unique quality of LKM makes it a desirable candidate for buffering the stress of being social evaluated or socially excluded. Using the Trier Social Stress Test and the Cyberball social exclusion paradigm, the present study investigated the effectiveness of a brief LKM session in buffering against social evaluative and social exclusion stress. Three specific questions were addressed: In what domains can LKM exert positive effects? For whom does it work? And, how does it work? One hundred and thirteen participants (N = 113, 49 men) were randomly assigned to either a 10-minute LKM session or a 10-minute visualization control session. Findings showed that even just 10 minutes of LKM had an immediate relaxing effect as evidenced by increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), an index of parasympathetic cardiac control, and decreased respiration rate. In addition, the brief LKM intervention led to greater implicit positivity towards the self relative to the control intervention (p = .052). The brief LKM intervention also protected against some of the negative physiological and psychological effects of social stress. The majority of these effects are moderated by trait social anxiety and pre-meditation mood states (or pre-meditation mood state alone). Contrary to expectation, trait social anxiety alone did not moderate any of the LKM effects. Importantly, receiving a brief session of LKM while not being in a positive mood or being in a negative mood led to iatrogenic physiological and psychological effects. Providing an explanation for one of LKM's effects, findings showed that change in RSA during LKM fully mediated the LKM Intervention x Positive Affect interaction effect on change in post-social-stress RSA. In conclusion, findings of the present study have extended our understanding of LKM and have specific implications for future research and practice.
Degree ProgramGraduate College