Chanting decreases stress and increases social connection
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 10:31 authored by Gemma Nicole Perry
Chanting is an ancient practice recognised in many cultures and traditions all over the world. It is typically used as a meditation practice for healing and psychological growth. The goal of the current investigation was to determine whether 12 minutes of vocal and silent group chanting of the sound 'Om' would result in reduced physiological and psychological stress and increased feelings of social connection. It was hypothesised that both vocal and silent forms of chanting would decrease stress and increase feelings of social connection, however, it was predicted that the effects of vocal chanting should be more robust. Psychology students from Macquarie University (M = 21.79, SD = 7.17) were randomly allocated to one of two conditions: vocal or silent chanting. Prior and post chanting, participants completed the State Trait Anxiety Inventory, Adapted Self-Report Altruism Scale (including an additional 6 questions on cross-cultural altruism) and provided a saliva sample to assess cortisol levels. Following chanting, participants completed a manipulation check and provided a written description of their experiences of the chanting. Following both vocal and silent chanting, self-reported stress and cortisol levels significantly decreased. The reduction in cortisol was similar for vocal and silent chanting, but self-reported stress decreased significantly more following vocal chanting than silent chanting. As predicted, altruism increased following both vocal and silent chanting. Interestingly, however, there was no evidence that this benefit extended experiences of cross-cultural altruism. The findings are discussed in view of current theory and evidence on the physiological and psychological effects of chanting, singing and meditation.