Effects are similar to visits to physical art galleries or even nature experiences


Viewing works of art while visiting galleries and museums can have powerful effects on an individual’s mood, stress, and well-being. But is the same true for viewing art in the digital space? A new study by psychologists led by MacKenzie Trupp and Matthew Pelowski investigated whether engaging with online art also has this effect. Their conclusion: a short three-minute visit to an online artistic or cultural exhibition also shows significant positive effects on subjective well-being.

During the first wave of the Covid 19 pandemic, arts and cultural institutions rapidly moved from fixed buildings to the Internet. For the first time, digital museums and online art galleries have caught the public’s attention. This had two effects: first, art and cultural objects were accessible from the sofas of citizens around the world. Second, the art was given the opportunity to reach a much wider audience than before.

Over the past decade, researchers have conducted numerous research studies demonstrating that art can have a positive impact on health and well-being. However, it was not known whether these effects could also be felt on the Internet.

In a new study, MacKenzie Trupp, PhD, Matthew Pelowski of the research group Arts and Research on the Transformation of Individuals and Society, and their colleagues from the Department of Psychology and the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics asked participants to visit art exhibitions accessible via smartphones. , tablets and computers. Before and after the visit, psychological state and well-being were measured to determine how beneficial the viewing of art could be.

The results showed that even very brief viewings can have significant effects, leading to lower negative mood, anxiety and loneliness, as well as higher subjective well-being. These results were comparable to other interventions such as nature experiences and visits to physical art galleries. After further investigation, the personal subjective experiences of individuals became an important aspect to consider. The research team found that the more people found art meaningful or beautiful and the more positive feelings they had when looking at it, the greater the benefit.

These results demonstrate that a brief online art consultation can improve and support well-being. Additionally, this study emphasizes artistic interventions – a recommendation that can be implemented on location or adapted to individual viewers*. This opens new avenues for new research and applications in spaces such as waiting rooms, hospitals and rural areas where access to art is limited.

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Material provided by University of Vienna. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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