Enhancing and Explaining Art-Making for Mood-Repair: The Benefits of Positive Growth-Oriented Instructions and Quiet Ego Contemplation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Although research supports the use of positively focused art-making activities in laboratory settings to improve mood, the literature is fraught with methodological issues and few investigators have developed a theoretical model to explain why it is psychologically beneficial. Through previous research, we developed a model outlining critical factors associated with well-being in the context of a personalized art-making task (P): it must be engaging (E), arousing (A), reduce rumination/self-focus (R), and increase life satisfaction (LS) or positive mood (PEARLS). We randomly assigned 216 participants to one of four art-making conditions, designed to either enhance negative or positive mood through a focus on rumination or growth. We found that a growth orientation during art making supported immediate mood repair, and, that this was not simply because of distraction. Planned comparisons confirmed the prediction that brief exposure to the quiet ego contemplation (QEC) intervention prior to growth-oriented art making was significantly more successful at enhancing positive mood than when no QEC was given and art making had a ruminative focus. Our findings suggest that clinicians should consider the benefits of priming activities, such as the QEC, before having clients engage in art-making activities to decrease self-focus. Our experimental study further supports our theoretical PEARLS model: in the context of personalized art-making activities, high flow, high arousal, and low rumination are essential for mood-repair to occur; positive mood may be facilitated by activities and mindsets that reduce self-focus and orient the individual toward growth and transcendence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

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Keywords

  • Art-making
  • Flow
  • Growth orientation
  • Positive mood
  • Quiet ego contemplation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Applied Psychology

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