Empirical Study of the Healing Nature of Artistic Expression: Using Mandalas with the Positive Emotions of Love and Joy
MetadataShow full item record
Research in positive psychology continues to contribute to the understanding of the significance of human virtues as well as the value that experiencing positive emotions has on individual well-being, including building strengths, broadening resources, and increasing mental health. The benefits that the creative arts have on increasing psychological health and creating positive emotions are also an important but understudied area of research. The purpose of the current study was to examine, in a manner similar to the written disclosure paradigm, how the creation of mandalas while reflecting on the positive emotions of love and joy related to increased psychological well-being, and continued positive affect in a college sample. It was also hypothesized that the mere act of expressing personally felt emotions, regardless of positive or negative, while creating mandalas would reveal a significant increase in psychological and physical health relative to the control condition. Benefits to participants were measured in terms of changes in the variables of post-traumatic stress severity symptoms, depressive symptoms, anxiety, spiritual meaning, the frequency of physical symptoms and illness, as well as positive and negative affect. A series of one-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) comparing the experimental and control groups were conducted for all outcome measures at Time 2 and at 1-month follow-up. Results revealed no significant differences between the groups on any of the health measures. Next, a series of ANCOVA were also conducted comparing the experimental and control groups for general positive and negative affect and basic positive and negative emotion before and after each drawing session at Time 1, 2 and 3 as well as at the 1-month follow-up. Although sustained positive emotion was not supported between Time 3 and the 1-month follow-up, participants felt higher general positive affect and basic positive emotion after each drawing session focusing on love and joy. Implications of these results and further research will be discussed.
Henderson, Patti Gail (2012). Empirical Study of the Healing Nature of Artistic Expression: Using Mandalas with the Positive Emotions of Love and Joy. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from