Viewing art while visiting galleries and museums can have a profound effect on a person’s mood, stress, and well-being. But is the same true for viewing art in the digital space? A new study led by psychologists Mackenzie Trapp and Matthew Piolowski investigated whether online art has this effect. Their conclusion: A brief three-minute visit to an art or cultural exhibition online also shows a significant positive effect on subjective well-being.
In the first wave of the Covid 19 pandemic, arts and cultural institutions quickly moved from fixed buildings to the Internet. For the first time, digital museums and online art galleries have become the focus of public attention. This had two consequences: first, objects of art and culture were accessible from the couches of citizens around the world. Second, art has been able to reach a much wider audience than before.
Over the past decade, scientists have conducted numerous studies demonstrating that art can have a positive effect on health and well-being. However, it was not known whether these effects could also be felt through the Internet.
In the new study, Mackenzie Trapp, Ph.D., Matthew Piolowski of the Arts and Research Group on Personality and Society Transformation, and 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. Psychological state and well-being were measured before and after the visit to determine the extent to which art viewing might be beneficial.
The results showed that even very short exposures can have significant effects, leading to reductions in negative mood, anxiety and loneliness, as well as increases in subjective well-being. These results were comparable to other interventions such as nature and art gallery visits. After further research, people’s personal subjective experience became an important aspect to consider. The research team found that the more meaningful and beautiful the art is to people, and the more positive feelings they experience while viewing it, the greater the benefits.
These results demonstrate that brief online art viewing can improve and support well-being. In addition, this research highlights artistic interventions – recommendations that can be implemented in situ or tailored for individual viewers*. This opens new avenues for further research and application in spaces such as waiting rooms, hospitals and rural areas where access to art is limited.