Art has the power to change our minds. But does this hold true while viewing artwork on a screen? This issue was chosen for investigation by an international research team directed by 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.
The findings have now been published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour as an open-access publication.
A Google Arts and Culture interactive Monet Water Lily art installation was watched by 240 study participants. They submitted information about their mental state, how much joy they felt when looking at the photographs, and how meaningful they thought the event was by filling out a questionnaire. After only a few minutes of watching, the results showed considerable changes in mood and anxiety.
"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," said MacKenzie Trupp, first author from the University of Vienna.The study also found that some participants were more receptive to art than others and were able to benefit more. 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," said Edward A. Vessel of MPIEA, developer of the Aesthetic Responsiveness Assessment (AReA).
The findings of this study are particularly interesting for people who are unable to visit museums in person, such as those with health problems. Furthermore, the results suggest that interactive art exhibitions and similar online experiences should be designed with an awareness of individual differences in aesthetic responsiveness.
The study thus expands insight into the benefits and limitations of art in digital media and points the way for increasing the wellness potential of online art. (ANI)