Posts tagged with "25%"

OM can lead to OMG: Meditation is not for everyone

May 15, 2019

Meditation has been touted by millions worldwide for its ability to lower stress, zap anxiety, and increase focus, among other mental health benefits. But a study conducted at the University College of London has found that fully 25% of those who have tried it say that they don’t feel tranquil or serene; rather, they experience fear and distorted emotions, Study Finds reports.

Of 1,232 frequent meditation practitioners (people who have meditated regularly for at least two months) surveyed by researchers at the college, more than one-quarter admit they have had at least one “unpleasant experience” while meditating.

Researchers say suffering from an unpleasant meditative experience seems to be more prevalent among specific groups—among them, those who:

  • Attend a meditation retreat,
  • Only practice “deconstructive types” of meditation such as Vipassana (insight) and Koan practice used in Zen Buddhism, and
  • Experience higher levels of repetitive negative thinking.

Conversely, women and participants with religious beliefs were less likely to have a negative experience.

“These findings point to the importance of widening the public and scientific understanding of meditation beyond that of a health-promoting technique,” says lead author Marco Schlosser, a professor in UCL’s Division of Psychiatry. “Very little is known about why, when, and how such meditation-related difficulties can occur: More research is now needed to understand the nature of these experiences. When are unpleasant experiences important elements of meditative development, and when are they merely negative effects to be avoided?”

For the study, participants were surveyed online about their meditation history, and completed assessments that measure repetitive negative thinking and self-compassion. They were also asked, “Have you ever had any particularly unpleasant experiences (e.g. anxiety, fear, distorted emotions or thoughts, altered sense of self or the world), which you think may have been caused by your meditation practice?”

In all, 25.6% said they’ve had an unpleasant experience (28.5% of men, 23% of women). This was especially true for those who did not have a religious affiliation (30.6%), versus 22% who did hold religious beliefs. About 29% of people who had attended a meditation retreat reported negative experiences, compared to only 19.6% of those who had never attended one.

Researchers say the results show there needs to be a greater focus on the downside to meditating, as studies are typically centered around all the good the practice offers.

“Most research on meditation has focused on its benefits, however, the range of meditative experiences studied by scientists needs to be expanded,” says Schlosser. “It is important at this point not to draw premature conclusions about the potential negative effects of meditation.”

The study findings are published in the May 9 edition of the journal, PLOS One.

Research contact: @ucl

Creating change: If 25% believe, the rest will go along

June 12, 2018

When the size of a minority committed to social change—such as the Me Too movement or Black Lives Matter or March for Our Lives—reaches 25%, that’s a tipping point for transition and transformation in the large public, based on findings of a study conducted by Annenberg School for Communication researcher Damon Centola and released on June 7.

The study, just published in the journal, Science, answers the question, “When organizations turn a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace, how many people need to take a stand before the behavior is no longer seen as normal ?”

“The classical model,” Centola says, “would dictate that 51% or more is needed to initiate real social change. We found, both theoretically and experimentally, that a much smaller fraction of the population can effectively do this.”

This idea of a social tipping point applies to standards in the workplace, and any type of movement or initiative, Centola believes.

Online, people develop norms about everything from what type of content is acceptable to post on social media to how civil or uncivil to be in their language. We have recently seen how public attitudes can and do shift on issues like gay marriage, gun laws, or race and gender  equality, as well as what beliefs are or aren’t publicly acceptable to voice.

During the past 50 years, many studies of organizations and community change have attempted to identify the critical size needed for a tipping point, purely based on observation. These studies have speculated such tipping points can range anywhere between 10% to 40%.

Drawing on more than a decade of experimental work, Centola and his three research associates developed 10 groups of 20 participant—each of whom was given a financial incentive to agree on a linguistic norm. Once a norm had been established, a group of confederates—a coalition of activists that varied in size—then pushed for a change to the norm.

When a minority group pushing change was below 25% of the total group, its efforts failed. But when the committed minority reached 25%, there was an abrupt change in the group dynamic, and quickly a majority of the population adopted the new norm. In one trial, a single person accounted for the difference between success and failure.

The researchers also tested the strength of their results by increasing the payments people received for adhering to the prevailing norm. Despite Centola and his colleagues doubling and tripling the amount of money for sticking with an established behavior, a minority group could still overturn the group norm, the researchers found.

“When a community is close to a tipping point to cause large-scale social change, there’s no way they would know this,” says Centola, who also directs Annenberg’s Network Dynamics Group. “And if they’re just below a tipping point, their efforts will fail. But remarkably, just by adding one more person, and getting above the 25% tipping point, their efforts can have rapid success in changing the entire population’s opinion.

The implications for large-scale behavior change are the subject of Centola’s new book, How Behavior Spreads, published this month by Princeton University Press.

Research contact: dcentola@asc.upenn.edu