Meditation fosters liberal attitudes: Study

Toronto: Besides conferring health benefits, meditation also fosters liberal attitudes immediately after a session, say Canadian researchers.

"There`s great overlap between religious beliefs and political orientations," says psychology researcher Jordan Peterson of University of Toronto.

"Inducing a spiritual experience through a guided meditation exercise led both liberals and conservatives to endorse more liberal political attitudes," adds Peterson, a study co-author.

"While religiousness is characterised by devotion to a specific tradition, set of principles, or code of conduct, spirituality is associated with the direct experience of self-transcendence and the feeling that we`re all connected," says Jacob Hirsh of Toronto`s Rotman School of Management, who led the study.

In three studies, the researchers Hirsh, Peterson and Megan Walberg examined their participants` political views in relation to their religiousness and spirituality.

In the first study, they asked 590 American participants whether they identified as Democrat or Republican, according to a Toronto statement.

In the second, they measured 703 participants` political orientations and support for the major American and Canadian political parties. In the third, researchers recruited 317 participants from the US and asked half to complete a spiritual exercise consisting of a guided meditation video.

Researchers reported that, compared to those in the control group, participants who meditated felt significantly higher levels of spirituality and expressed more liberal political attitudes, including a reduced support for "tough on crime" policies and a preference for liberal political candidates.