Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness.
The need for social connection is a fundamental human motive, and it is increasingly clear that feeling socially connected confers mental and physical health benefits. However, in many cultures, societal changes are leading to growing social distrust and alienation. Can feelings of social connection and positivity toward others be increased? Is it possible to self-generate these feelings? In this study, the authors used a brief loving-kindness meditation exercise to examine whether social connection could be created toward strangers in a controlled laboratory context. Compared with a closely matched control task, even just a few minutes of loving-kindness meditation increased feelings of social connection and positivity toward novel individuals on both explicit and implicit levels. These results suggest that this easily implemented technique may help to increase positive social emotions and decrease social isolation.