Children and Art: Exploring the Correlation between Art Activities and Positive Emotion/Happiness in Preschoolers

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, Hope College

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Since the late 1940’s art therapy has been a growing field of psychotherapy shown to be effective with a wide range of clients, including but not limited to, children. This study is focused specifically on how children feel about art and its ability to promote positive feelings and emotions. The purpose of this study is to assess the extent to which children will connect art with positive emotion; a second question explores whether there are gender differences with respect to connecting art with emotion and happiness, finally a third explorative question is whether older children will connect art with happiness with a higher frequency than younger children. The population included in this study is preschoolers at 3, 4, and 5 years of age both male and female. Each of the children who participated in this study was presented with a forced choice response instrument with 12 items, which was developed for the purposes of this study. Some of the black and white images depicted children participating in artistic activities while other images showed children performing other developmentally appropriate activities. Each child was presented with a doll and told that the doll was very sad and that their help was needed to make the doll feel better. Children were then required to point to the picture of the activity that would help make the sad child (doll) feel better/happy. Results are presented for art compared to other activities, for gender outcomes and for age.

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