(Francesca Marshall – The Telegraph) Meditation does not make you a better person according to a new study despite widespread claims that meditation can make you calmer and more compassionate towards other people.
Researchers have found that despite popular beliefs that meditation can make people more compassionate and less aggressive the evidence for this is limited.
The research by scientists at Coventry University in the UK, Massey University in New Zealand, and Radboud University in the Netherlands, reviewed 22 studies involving 1685 people to investigate the effect of various types of meditation.
The practice, incorporating a range of spiritual or religious beliefs in a bid to boost the mind, body and spirit, has been touted as being able to make the world a better place.
Initially research found that meditation did have an overall positive impact, however further analysis revealed a core methodological flaw that greater levels of compassion only increased if the meditation teacher was also the author of the study, suggesting bias.
Dr Miguel Farias, from Coventry University’s Centre for Advances in Behavioural Science, said: “The popularisation of meditation techniques, like mindfulness, despite being taught without religious beliefs, still seem to offer the hope of a better self and a better world to many.
“We did not find that meditation had any negative effects, however the good impacts can be compared to a placebo effect.
Initial analysis carried out indicated that positive effects were seen by making people feel moderately more compassionate or empathetic, compared to if they had done no other new emotionally-engaging activity.
However further analysis revealed it played no significant role in reducing aggression or prejudice or improving how socially-connected someone was.