Coloring the Mandala as a Way to Relieve Anxiety
The research question focused on in this study is if color therapy decreases anxiety. The reason why the researchers chose this topic because anxiety is becoming more and more common, so it is practical to develop a way to effectively lessen the effects of the negative emotion. Previous research has shown that coloring is effective, but this study expanded the research because it also included different types of coloring materials in order to explain which type (mandala, plaid, or free coloring) is the most effective in reducing anxiety. They hypothesized that the people that colored a mandala would show a greater decrease in anxiety than people in the free coloring groups.
This participants in this study consisted of 84 undergraduate students. They were mostly Caucasians between the 18-22 years old, and there were three prize drawings at the end of the experiment as incentive to participate. The independent variable was the type of coloring that the participant did, and it had three levels (mandala, plaid, and free coloring). The dependent variable was anxiety, which was measured with the State Anxiety Inventory. Each participant completed the inventory three times: when they first started the experiment, after an writing about a fearful experience in their past, and after coloring for 20 minutes.
The first result was that participant anxiety levels went up from when they first arrived to after the anxiety inducing procedure, which was expected. They also found that both the mandala and the plaid group had both lower levels in anxiety after coloring and had greater reductions in anxiety from after the anxiety induction. Finally, they found that for the mandala group, anxiety levels were lower after coloring for 20 minutes than when they were when the participants first started the experiment.
The original hypothesis was that coloring a mandala would decrease anxiety, which was supported by the data. Additionally, they were able to conclude that the complex pattern of the mandala was responsible for the reduction because when participants colored a plaid pattern, they experienced the same decrease in anxiety. These results fit with other research in this area because they found that coloring decreases anxiety, but this study also expands the research field because they were able to determine that only complex and structured coloring decreases anxiety. The strength of this study was that they used three different types of coloring to compare between. One major weakness of this study was that all of the participants were undergraduate students who are typically more stressed than the average person. Future research could use a more representative sample to determine if there is still an effect. Also, future research could look at different types of structured coloring, like simple picture compared to complex mandalas, to see if there is a difference in the complexity of the design.
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