Awareness of subtle emotional feelings: A comparison of long-term meditators and nonmeditators

Lisbeth Nielsen, Alfred W. Kaszniak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


The authors explored whether meditation training to enhance emotional awareness improves discrimination of subtle emotional feelings hypothesized to guide decision-making. Long-term meditators and nonmeditators were compared on measures of self-reported valence and arousal, skin conductance response (SCR), and facial electromyography (EMG) to masked and nonmasked emotional pictures, and on measures of heartbeat detection and self-reported emotional awareness. Groups responded similarly to nonmasked pictures. In the masked condition, only controls showed discrimination in valence self-reports. However, meditators reported greater emotional clarity than controls, and meditators with higher clarity had reduced arousal and improved valence discrimination in the masked condition. These findings provide qualified support for the somatic marker hypothesis and suggest that meditation may influence how emotionally ambiguous information is processed, regulated, and represented in conscious awareness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-405
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotion
  • Meditation
  • Somatic marker hypothesis
  • Subjective experience
  • Visual masking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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