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Looking at Monet also makes people happy on the Internet

Watching Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” online increases subjective well-being in less than two minutes. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers from the University of Vienna in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. “Art does not have to be something that is preserved when visiting the hallowed halls of museums,” Mackenzie Tropp from the Department of Psychology told APA.

In 1899, Claude Monet painted the Japanese Bridge Crossing the Pond in his garden at Giverny. Monet’s water lilies with pink, yellow, and white flowers are among the most famous Impressionist images. A cheerful bouquet of colors with a strong green motive and a bridge that runs across the picture over a surface of water covered in water lily cups.

They are viewed on smartphones, laptops, and computers

240 study participants at the University of Vienna viewed this painting, owned by the National Gallery in London, in an interactive art gallery of Monet Water Lilies by Google Arts and Culture, using smartphones, laptops, and computers. After just a few minutes, her mental state improved significantly.

“It doesn’t mean we should all stay home now,” Tropp said. The Canadian psychologist, who, along with researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen (Netherlands) and the Max Planck Institute for Experimental Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, conducted the current study.

The first study to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic was published last summer. Now the Canadian has repeated the study, improved the research method and dramatically increased the sample size: from 84 to 240 participants. “It is a direct replication of our first study and shows that the results are consistent.”

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It is understandable that a graceful water lily pond can have a beneficial effect, and that art can have a beneficial effect that is now well known, but does a digital image like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” lift one’s spirits? Eyes wide open, hands pressed to the skull, one of the characters opens his mouth. Behind her is a blazing inferno.

“The degree of joy is individual”

“What our study shows most is that it’s really personal to the individual, because the level of joy that someone experiences and the meaning that someone attaches to the painting is individual,” said Troupe. If you really love Munch, for example, and find the painting really relevant Meaning, you can also benefit greatly from it.”

One thing the team only found out through the review process is that smartphones may mitigate the positive effect. “More research is needed, but we have preliminary evidence to support this,” Troup said. “Viewing art on your smartphone probably won’t be as valuable as viewing it on a larger screen.”

“But with ‘art in the pocket’ we can have very small experiences,” says the psychologist. The experiments also provided empirical support for new ideas related to technical developments. Digital app companies such as “kunsttell,” an online art-based app for mindfulness, have reached out to the world and are interested in developing an art app. “Through technology, art can be in places it hasn’t been before and still promote well-being. I think that’s the biggest impact of this research.”

Technology presents new opportunities

The current study cannot answer whether looking at digital water lilies is equivalent to visiting a museum, but this is already being tested. For a few years now, the psychologist has been doing a study at the Albertina in Vienna, where people look at the real Monet. Data collection will be completed this summer. The trials will then be compared with the current study.

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