Well-Being Mental Health

Viewing artwork online can improve your mood

A new study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that even briefly viewing digital art can lead to lower negative mood, anxiety, and loneliness, as well as higher personal view of well-being.
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Story at a glance


  • Previous research suggests that viewing art in person can benefit a person’s mental health.

  • But the research team wanted to know whether the same effect could be felt after viewing artwork online. 

  • Participants were asked to view art exhibitions online using a variety of devices and had their psychological state and well-being evaluated before and after the viewing to measure whether there was any benefit. 

Viewing art online for three minutes can have a significant positive impact on one’s mental health, according to a new study

The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that even briefly viewing digital art can lead to lower negative mood, anxiety, and loneliness, as well as higher personal view of well-being.  

Previous research suggests that viewing art in person can benefit a person’s mental health. But the research team, led by MacKenzie Trupp and Matthew Pelowski of the Arts and Research on Transformation of Individuals and Society, wanted to know whether the same effect could be felt after viewing artwork online, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted society. 

For the study participants were asked to view art exhibitions online using a variety of devices and had their psychological state and well-being evaluated before and after the viewing to measure whether there was any benefit.  

Moreover, researchers concluded the more beautiful a person found a piece of art, the greater the impact it had on their well-being.  

“The results of this paper suggest that online cultural engagement, including but not limited to fine art, does seem to be a viable tool to support individuals’ mood, anxiety, loneliness and wellbeing especially when such content is beautiful, meaningful, and inspires positive cognitive-emotional states in the viewer,” the authors wrote.


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Yet researchers noted their findings were subject to several limitations, including a small sample size and little control over the devices participants used as well as the settings where they viewed the artwork. 

The study measured digital art’s impact on 84 participants during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic from April 17 to June 6, 2020. 

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