*Psychological Bulletin* has scheduled a study for publication in a future issue of the journal: “The Psychological Effects of Meditation: A Meta-Analysis.” The authors are Peter Sedlmeier, Juliane Eberth, Marcus Schwarz, Doreen Zimmermann, Frederik Haarig, Sonia Jaeger, and Sonja Kunze. Here’s how the article starts:

[begin excerpt] Why do people meditate? There seem to be basically two answers. First, people meditate because they want to overcome psychological or emotional problems: meditation as a means for self-regulation. Second, people meditate to achieve a better understanding of life, enlarge their consciousness, and gain wisdom: meditation as a means to (positive) transformations in consciousness. These two aims often cannot be clearly separated, and most practitioners of meditation probably pursue both to a certain extent (e.g., Coleman, 2001). To date, Western academic psychology has focused on the former: meditation as a therapeutic means. Despite the public’s growing interest and an increasing number of studies on the impact of meditation, there is a surprising scarcity of summaries of the empirical evidence, especially for evidence that stems from research outside the therapeutic context. Numerous studies have been conducted to search for effects of meditation, yet there is an even more surprising lack of elaborate psychological theories that make sound predictions about what to expect if one meditates. This atheoretical approach is frequently mirrored in the measures used in the studies, which include all kinds of dependent variables that are not specific to meditation research and have also been used in many other kinds of research. Although, in this article, we place an emphasis on empirical evidence, we are convinced that real progress in understanding the effects of meditation cannot be made if future empirical studies are not guided by better theories. Therefore, after briefly surveying previous attempts to summarize the literature on the effects of meditation, we introduce existing theoretical approaches from both the East and the West. Following our analysis of the empirical evidence, we return to the issue of how we might make progress in understanding meditation and its effects. [end excerpt] Here’s how the Discussion section starts: [begin excerpt] Does meditation work in principle, that is, does it have positive effects? The evidence accumulated in the present meta-analysis yields a clear answer: yes. As for the overall size of the effect, is it practically meaningful? This question is hard to answer, but a comparison with other fields of study might be of some help here. The overall mean effect size Lipsey and Wilson (1993) found in 302 meta-analyses of psychological, educational, and behavioral treatments, including psychotherapy, was d = 0.50, and estimates for the population effect of psychotherapy go up to d = 0.80 (Wampold, 2001). We reported our results as correlative effect sizes, but if one recalculates them (assuming equal sample sizes for meditation and control groups) in terms of standard deviation units, one obtains d = 0.58 for the overall effect (r = .28) and d = 0.56 for the effect found only in the journal articles (r = .27). Even if one takes the results in the dissertations as a lower bound, it still results in d = 0.45 (r = .22). Thus, the impact of meditation on (healthy) practitioners is quite comparable to the impact of behavioral treatments and psychotherapy on patients. [end excerpt]

The author note provides the following contact information for reprint requests, comments, or questions: Peter Sedlmeier, Department of Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology, 09107 Chemnitz, Germany. E-mail: .

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