It seems you can’t go anywhere these days without someone or something touting all the benefits of meditation. It reduces anxiety and stress. It allows you to be present! It reduces muscle strain! It makes you a better person!
Well, there might be evidence to back some of those up, but a new study shows that meditation doesn’t really do all that much for your moral compass.
The study was a collaboration between three universities: Coventry University in the UK, Massey University in New Zealand, and Radboud University in the Netherlands.
Researchers looked at over 20 studies that examined the effects of different types of meditation on pro-social behaviours and attitudes. Initially, it found a positive effect: meditation made people feel more compassionate.
However, that feeling didn’t really seem to translate into action. It didn’t really reduce aggression or prejudice or influence how socially connected someone was.
The researchers concluded that a lot of the studies that showed a positive effect of meditation on compassion were a result of methodological biases and that there needs to be more studies to confirm.
So basically, there are a bunch of good reasons to meditate, but the jury’s still out on whether it will actually make you a better person.