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Looking At Art Can Help Improve Moods And Well-Being

1 year, 1 month ago

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Posted on May 12, 2023, 2 p.m.

It is not that big of a surprise to find out that looking at art can have a positive effect on our moods, but does this also apply when we are looking at art virtually? The findings of this study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior expand insight into the limitations and benefits of art platforms in digital media and provide directions for increasing opportunities for the potential of online art in wellness. 

To investigate this question, an international team of researchers involving the University of Vienna, the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, and the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA) in Frankfurt am Main recruited 240 participants to view an interactive Monet Water Lily art exhibition from Google Arts and Culture. 

After the viewing participants filled out questionnaires on their state of mind, how they felt when looking at the images, and how meaningful they considered the experience. According to the researchers, the participants showed significant improvements in both their moods and anxiety after a few minutes of viewing the pictures. Additionally, some of the participants were more receptive to art than others and they were able to benefit more, and this advantage could be predicted using aesthetic responsiveness metrics. 

"Online art viewing is an untapped source of support for well-being that can be consumed as bite-sized bits of meaning-making and pleasure," says MacKenzie Trupp, first author from the University of Vienna.

"Aesthetic responsiveness describes how people react to diverse aesthetic stimuli, like art and nature. The results showed that individuals with high levels of art and aesthetic responsiveness benefit more from online art viewing due to having more pleasurable and meaningful art experiences," explains Edward A. Vessel of MPIEA, developer of the Aesthetic Responsiveness Assessment (AReA).

The team suggests that the results from this study may be of interest to those who are unable to visit galleries and museums in person such as those with health problems or those living great distances away from the display location. Findings also suggest that interactive exhibitions and/or online virtual/digital experiences should be designed with an awareness of individual differences in aesthetic responsiveness. 

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.

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