Using art for comparison and distraction: Effects on negative emotions and judgements of satisfaction
Abstract Two studies examined whether emotional comparison and distraction with emotion congruent and incongruent art would improve the well-being of dysphoric undergraduates. In both studies, subjects: (1) imagined a sad event; (2) compared their mood to that expressed by incongruent art (upward comparison) or congruent art (downward comparison); or focused on technical features of incongruent art (incongruent distraction) or congruent art (congruent distraction); and (3) rated their emotions and life satisfaction. The incongruent distraction group reported feeling more positive and more satisfied, and the downward comparison group reported feeling more satisfied, than the upward comparison or congruent distraction groups. Thus, comparison and distraction can improve well-being when directed towards emotion congruent and incongruent art, respectively.