Northern Kentucky University

Poster Title

The Effects of the Visual Arts on Stress

Institution

Northern Kentucky University

Abstract

“Art offers…space—a certain breathing room”. John Updike. The relationship between the arts and mind-body wellness is well documented. Arts such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises have long been lauded as successful ways to reduced one’s overall stress. Art is also becoming increasingly popular in the therapeutic setting, allowing clients to explore art as a medium to reduced stress, tension and to deal with life changes. In the applied setting, usefulness of art as a tool for stress reduction is well documented. However, virtually no experimental research documents the use of viewing art to reduce stress. The current study aimed to address the lack of research by investigating the relationship between visual art and transient rates of stress. Freshman participants were exposed to artwork or a blank page during a stressful test taking procedure. Participants were asked to rate their stress before and after viewing the art. It was hypothesized that students, who viewed art, rather than a neutral stimuli, would indicate lower rates of stress. Additionally, those students who viewed realistic art, rather than abstract art would report lower rates of stress. Analysis and discussion focus on the effectiveness of viewing art on reducing stress and the influence the type of art has on its usefulness in reducing stress. Future directions of this line of research are discussed.

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The Effects of the Visual Arts on Stress

“Art offers…space—a certain breathing room”. John Updike. The relationship between the arts and mind-body wellness is well documented. Arts such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises have long been lauded as successful ways to reduced one’s overall stress. Art is also becoming increasingly popular in the therapeutic setting, allowing clients to explore art as a medium to reduced stress, tension and to deal with life changes. In the applied setting, usefulness of art as a tool for stress reduction is well documented. However, virtually no experimental research documents the use of viewing art to reduce stress. The current study aimed to address the lack of research by investigating the relationship between visual art and transient rates of stress. Freshman participants were exposed to artwork or a blank page during a stressful test taking procedure. Participants were asked to rate their stress before and after viewing the art. It was hypothesized that students, who viewed art, rather than a neutral stimuli, would indicate lower rates of stress. Additionally, those students who viewed realistic art, rather than abstract art would report lower rates of stress. Analysis and discussion focus on the effectiveness of viewing art on reducing stress and the influence the type of art has on its usefulness in reducing stress. Future directions of this line of research are discussed.