Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The economics of hypnotic meditation

Graduating senior Hal Zeitlin is set to begin a one-year internship with The Levy Centers for Mind-Body Medicine and Human Potential. He then plans to join the Houston Teach for America corps.

To graduate with honors from the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, students must complete an honors thesis, a comprehensive project that involves months of original research and analysis on a topic of their choice under the guidance of a faculty adviser. The result is a final paper and an oral defense of their thesis to a faculty committee.

Hal Zeitlin's thesis is entitled: "Silent Economics: The Cooperative Effects of Hypnotic Meditation." His adviser was Kelli Lanier, instructor of economics.

"I examined the impact of meditation alone versus the same meditation preceded by hypnotic relaxation procedures on the economic cooperative behavior of 160 undergraduates," Zeitlin explains. "Hypnotic meditation is used to relax a meditator before they practice any scientifically valid form of meditation. There was a significant change of relaxation within the hypnotic group, greater than the change in the meditation-only group. The meditation-only group maintained cooperative behavior for two of three rounds, and the hypnotic group for all three. Since these results could be attributed to random variation, I recommend that the study be repeated with a larger sample."

A growing amount of scientific evidence has revealed that certain meditation practices can positively change the human brain. "I am interested in helping to introduce scientifically valid meditation practices into American schools, for the benefit of youth," Zeitlin says. "My thesis experience provided me an opportunity to begin a professional investigation into meditation and its effects on pro-social behavior."

Read about more honors thesis projects in Emory Report.

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