Exposure To Art Increases Empathy
A study of over 10,000 students found that a one-hour tour of an art museum can increase empathy, tolerance and critical thinking skills.
A new museum opened in Arkansas and many schools applied to visit so researchers decided that it was a good time to create an experiment on the effects of art on the students’ minds.Visits to the museum were planned. The times for visits were randomly assigned (early or late) and the experimental group was matched with a control group.
The museum tour was one hour long and students viewed and talked about five paintings. The trip lasted half a day. After the early visits, all the students (experimental and control) were asked to write about a painting they had not seen before the visit to assess how they thought about art. They were also tested for historical empathy and tolerance.
The results showed that, compared with students who did not visit the museum, students who had visited:
- Thought about art more critically.
- Displayed greater empathy about how people lived in the past.
- Expressed greater levels of tolerance towards people with different views.
The museum had clearly been a mind-expanding experience for the young people. Interestingly, the improvements were larger when the students were from more deprived backgrounds. I think this is a fantastic study, especially because I love the findings.
source: Greene et al., 2014