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How viewing online art can improve mood

The new study showed significant improvements in mood and anxiety after a few minutes of viewing online art

Viewing online art can improve well-being and improve mood. (Pexel)
Viewing online art can improve well-being and improve mood. (Pexel)

It is well-known that art can positively affect our mood but it’s interesting to explore whether it can have a similar effect when view through a screen. A new study has investigated this to understand online art viewing can be a source of pleasure and meaning-making that can boost our well-being.

An international research team involving the University of Vienna, the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen and the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA) in Frankfurt explored how online art affects people’s state of mind. The findings were published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Also read: Visual art can have a powerful effect on emotions

The study involved 240 study participants who viewed an interactive Monet Water Lily art exhibition from Google Arts and Culture. They later filled out a questionnaire, providing information about their state of mind, how much pleasure they felt when looking at the pictures, and how meaningful they considered the experience to be, according to MPIEA’s press statement. The results showed significant improvements in mood and anxiety after a few minutes of viewing the art.

“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,” MacKenzie Trupp, first author from the University of Vienna said in the statement.

Moreover, the study showed that some participants were more receptive to the art and could gain more benefits. This advantage could be predicted using a metric called “aesthetic responsiveness.”

“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,” explained Edward A. Vessel of MPIEA, developer of the Aesthetic Responsiveness Assessment in the statement.

The findings suggest that interactive art exhibitions and online experiences can affect mood and overall well-being. It is also important to note that these virtual experiences should be designed with this awareness of individual differences in aesthetic responsiveness, according to the statement. The study highlights the benefits and limitations of art in digital media and the increasing potential of improving wellness through online art.

These findings also reiterate previous results on the topic. A 2022 study by the University of Vienna showed even brief viewings of online art can significantly lower negative mood, anxiety, and loneliness, as well as improve subjective well-being. Moreover, the researchers showed that the results were comparable to other interventions such as nature experiences and visits to physical art galleries, according to Science Daily. 

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