Meditation in the Digital Age

As we continue to explore the effect that mobile and online based meditation has on physical and psychological health, we’ll update our findings here. Below are published research studies using the Headspace app.


A controlled study from Northeastern University suggests that using Headspace may increase compassion. Participants were exposed to a real-world situation involving a person in visible pain. After three weeks those in the mindfulness group responded more compassionately, evidenced by giving up their seats more frequently than those assigned to the active control group. This preliminary evidence suggests that mobile-app based meditation training may enhance compassionate behaviour in everyday life.1


In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers assessed the effect of 10 Headspace meditation sessions on aspects of well-being. Compared to a wait-list control group, those who practiced meditation experienced a moderate improvement in mood and a marginal decrease in depression. This preliminary evidence supports the viability of smartphone-based meditation training in enhancing elements of well-being.2


In an uncontrolled pilot study at the University of Chicago researchers assessed the feasibility and impact of the Headspace 10-day Take 10 program in volunteers from the pediatric residency program. Following 10 days of Headspace it was shown that a greater percentage of residents perceived mindfulness as useful and perhaps most importantly a greater number planned to discuss it as a therapeutic option with their patients.3

  1. Lim, D., Condon, P., & DeSteno, D. (2015). Mindfulness and compassion: an examination of mechanism and scalability. PloS one, 10(2), e0118221.
  2. Howells, A., Ivtzan, I., & Eiroa-Orosa, F. J. (2016). Putting the ‘app’ in happiness: a randomised controlled trial of a Smartphone-based mindfulness intervention to enhance wellbeing. Journal of Happiness Studies, 17(1), 163-185.
  1. Taylor, M., Hageman, J. R., & Brown, M. (2016). A Mindfulness Intervention for Residents: Relevance for Pediatricians. Pediatric Annals, 45(10), e373-e376.