The Effects of Medium and Instruction on State Mindfulness, Affect and State Anxiety While Completing Mandalas Estelle Campenni , Ashley Hartman (Psychology, Marywood University, Scranton, PA ) P1
In an investigation of the effects of completing mandalas on mood, anxiety, and state mindfulness, Campenni and Hartman (2019) found that explicit assessments yielded equivalent improvement in outcome variables across conditions. More specifically, the use of structured (i.e., pre-drawn) and unstructured (i.e., open circle) mandalas yielded similar beneficial outcomes. However, implicit assessments suggested that the underlying mechanisms contributing to the efficacy of mandalas in promoting health differed for coloring versus creating. Specifically, linguistic analysis of reflective writing indicated more insight and affect word use with unstructured mandalas as compared to structured mandalas. The present study expands on these results by focusing specifically on determining how instruction and media type affect outcomes associated with creating unstructured mandalas. This randomized controlled study examined the effect of type of media (i.e., restrictive vs. semi-fluid) and type of instruction (i.e., distraction vs. reflection) on explicit assessment of state anxiety, mood, and state mindfulness while completing an unstructured mandala. Linguistic analysis of reflective writing was used to assess changes in mindfulness implicitly. Results indicated that explicit assessments of state anxiety and negative affect decreased following completion of all mandala conditions while positive affect increased. Using pretest measures as a covariate, ANCOVA results indicated that use of fluid medium (e.g., pastels) increased positive affect as compared to restrictive medium (e.g., colored pencils). A main effect of instruction indicated that mindfulness increased significantly for distracting instructions (i.e., create a pattern that is soothing to you) as compared to reflective instruction (i.e., create a pattern that represents balance in your life). These results were found for both subscales of the State Mindfulness Scale body (i.e., bodily sensations) and mind (i.e., mental events). Implicit assessment of behavioral outcomes employed the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LWIC: Pennebaker, Booth, and Francis, 2007). Evaluation of a reflective writing sample that asked participants to describe the experience of completing the mandala indicated a significant media x instruction interaction for the use of perceptual words. Inspection of the interaction indicated that use of perceptual words was highest when a fluid material (i.e., oil pastels) was used with a distracting (i.e., soothing) instruction. Evaluation of a reflective writing sample that asked participants to look at their mandala and describe the image while reflecting on their intent was also conducted. The media x instruction interaction indicated that the use of affect words (in general) and positive emotional words (more specifically) was highest when a fluid material (i.e., oil pastels) was used with a distracting (i.e., soothing) instruction. Fewer negative emotional words and more perceptual words were used more when employing fluid materials as compared to restrictive materials. The implications of the findings relevant to facilitating the therapeutic benefits of art therapy through mindfulness are discussed.