Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Gordon Becker

Second Advisor

Kenneth A. Deffenbacher

Third Advisor

Dennis L. Dossett


A review of the Iiterature on the psychological variables which have been associated with Zen meditation revealed a close correspondence between the stated goals of Zen meditation and the personality characteristics of the self-actualized individual hypothesized by Maslow. A review of the experimental literature on the relationship between Zen meditation and self-actualization showed contradictory findings concerning the effectiveness of Zen meditation for enhancing self-actualization. However, Kirschner’s results indicated that a nine month learning period may exist for Zen meditation. It was therefore hypothesized that Zen meditation would not effect self-actualization scores until after this learning period was completed. The Personal Orientation Inventory (P.O.I.) was given to 36 subjects who had been practicing Zen meditation from 2 months up to 87 months and to 34 subjects who had never meditated. Those meditators who had practiced for 9 months or less were placed in the inexperienced meditator category and those who had meditated for longer than 9 months were placed in the experienced meditator category. Those subjects who had never meditated were placed in the comparison group category. Multiple t-tests were computed between the three groups for the Time Competent scale and the Inner Directed scale of the P.O.I. For both scales, the means of the experienced meditator group were significantly higher than the means of the comparison group, no significant differences were found between the means of the inexperienced and the comparison groups, and no significant differences were found between the means of the inexperienced and the experienced meditation groups. However, significant correlations between age, education level, and length of time as a meditator indicated that the variables were confounded. Analysis of the unique variance shared with the dependent variables showed that time as a meditator was a significant predictor of scores on only the Inner Directed scale. Age and education level were not significant unique predictors on either scale. Additional discussion of the results included implications of the static-group comparison design used in the study, possible independent variables for future meditation research, arid the implications of this study for the interpretation of past research on Zen meditation.

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Psychology Commons