Experimental Approaches to Loving-Kindness Meditation and Mindfulness That Bridge the Gap Between Clinicians and Researchers

  • Christopher J. MayEmail author
  • Kelli Johnson
  • Jared R. Weyker
Part of the Advances in Mental Health and Addiction book series (AMHA)


A small number of studies have begun to compare the relative effects of mindfulness meditation (MM) and loving-kindness meditation (LKM). These studies raise the prospect that particular types of meditation may be tailored to a given personality profile, disorder, or symptom. However, obtaining robust sample sizes is a significant challenge in comparative contemplative research. This challenge may be mitigated by a greater adoption of single-subject experimental designs. We illustrate the value of a single-subject approach with an alternating-treatment experiment, showing that MM and LKM have a number of differential effects within and between individuals. Such effects would not be apparent in more traditional group experimental designs, absent a very large sample size. Single-subject designs dovetail with the resources and idiopathic approach of clinicians, who may therefore be well positioned to significantly advance the science of meditation. Researchers, in turn, can analyze collections of single-subject experiments using increasingly sophisticated analytical tools to isolate population-level effects. In this way, meditation research can be crowdsourced among clinicians and researchers to both advance a basic scientific understanding of meditation and tailor treatment regimens to alleviate the suffering of individuals.


Mindfulness Loving-kindness Single-subject design Alternating treatment Meditation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher J. May
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kelli Johnson
    • 2
  • Jared R. Weyker
    • 1
  1. 1.Carroll UniversityWaukeshaUSA
  2. 2.SUNY Stony BrookStony BrookUSA

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