Art Elevates the Mind by Increasing Empathy, Critical Thinking and Tolerance

Posted on December 18, 2013

A new large-scale experiment on over 10,000 students finds that a one-hour tour of an art museum can increase empathy, tolerance and critical thinking skills. By carefully timetabling when they visited, the researchers were able to create an experiment on the effects of art on the students’ mind.

Each school was randomly assigned to visit the museum earlier, or delayed until later. Each school that visited earlier was demographically matched with a similar school that had to wait–this provided the control group.

After the early museum visits, all the students, including those that hadn’t been, were asked to write about a painting they hadn’t seen before to assess how they thought about art. They were also tested for historical empathy and tolerance.

The results showed that, compared with those who had not been to the museum, students who had visited:

1) Thought about art more critically.
2) Displayed greater empathy about how people lived in the past.
3) Expressed greater levels of tolerance towards people with different views.

Source material from PsyBlog

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