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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 269126, 11 pages
Research Article

Loving-Kindness Meditation to Target Affect in Mood Disorders: A Proof-of-Concept Study

1Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, 648 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215, USA
2Department of Psychology, University of Frankfurt, Germany

Received 11 March 2015; Revised 15 May 2015; Accepted 21 May 2015

Academic Editor: Mark Moss

Copyright © 2015 Stefan G. Hofmann et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Conventional treatments for mood disorders primarily focus on reducing negative affect, but little on enhancing positive affect. Loving-kindness meditation (LKM) is a traditional meditation practice directly oriented toward enhancing unconditional and positive emotional states of kindness towards oneself and others. We report here two independent and uncontrolled studies carried out at different centers, one in Boston, USA ( = 10), and one in Frankfurt, Germany ( = 8), to examine the potential therapeutic utility of a brief LKM group intervention for symptoms of dysthymia and depression. Results at both centers suggest that LKM was associated with large-sized effects on self-reported symptoms of depression ( = 3.33 and 1.90), negative affect ( = 1.98 and 0.92), and positive affect (d = 1.63 and 0.94). Large effects were also found for clinician-reported changes in depression, rumination and specific positive emotions, and moderate effects for changes in adaptive emotion regulation strategies. The qualitative data analyses provide additional support for the potential clinical utility of the intervention. This proof-of-concept evaluation of LKM as a clinical strategy warrants further investigation.