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What is it like to meditate? Investigating differential first-person reports during three types of mental training


Przyrembel,  Marisa
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Przyrembel, M. (2015). What is it like to meditate? Investigating differential first-person reports during three types of mental training. Talk presented at 5th IMPRS NeuroCom Summer School. Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany. 2015-07-09 - 2015-07-11.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-34B8-5
Neurophenomenology requires the marriage of first- and third-person data. Yet, for decades, cognitive scientists mostly considered first-person descriptions to be prone to error and thus invalid. Only recently, studies have shown that it is possible to gain trustworthy subjective data under ideal reporting conditions with certain in-depth introspective techniques, such as Elicitation-Interviews, focusing on singular experiences. In the context of the ReSource Project, a multimethod, longitudinal mental-training study, 107 Elicitation-Interviews were conducted on (1) breathing- (2) observing-thoughts- and (3) loving-kindness meditation in order to investigate the respective differential first-person experiences. Comprehensive analyses of 78 resulting transcripts – ranging from linguistic computer-based quantitative analyses, over refined assessment of the rich first-person data by 4 independent raters on the basis of a newly developed coding system, to clustering the interviewees’ original reports – clearly indicate a distinct experiential nature for each of these meditation techniques, e.g. regarding bodily, temperature and color sensations, and affective states. Apart from quantitatively analyzing these qualitative reports, the raw data allow for many more ways of exploring the underlying experiences which common questionnaires cannot capture. These can inform third-person data collected with an exhaustive battery of tasks in the ReSource Project.