Welcome to 
    the ENIGMA..........

                                THE SENIOR PSYCHOLOGY  THESIS



   DOES  ARTISTIC  INVOLVEMENT                                RELATE  TO                                      QUALITY OF LIFE AND LIFE


  summarization of the study, greater understanding of the issue

           the disappointing truth

                What this means


                                                                      CAN YOU HANDLE THE EXCITEMENT?

A modern dilemma is the current disregard for the Arts.Although the research is
overwhelming as to the benefits which the Arts provide (Baum, 1997; Dawson et al.,
1972; Goff, 1993; Hoffmann, 1978; Kirnick et al., 1981; Longman, 1994; Paffard,
1970; Schaefer-Simmons, 1970; & Spaniol, 1997) this is a topic which is grossly
under-researched within the confines of psychology. In order to examine the
effect, if any, that art plays in the lives of individuals, this study investigated the
relationship between one’s artistic involvement, quality of life, and life
satisfaction. Participants were drawn from the human subject pool at Saint Anselm
College(n=48, 38 women and 10 men). Subjects were administered the Frequency
of Artistic Involvement Scale, designed by the experimenter, the Comprehensive
Quality of Life Questionnaire (Cummins, 1991), and the Satisfaction with Life Scale
(Diener et al., 1985). Using Pearson product-moment correlation, the results
indicated that the factors are negatively correlated within this population
(r=-0.311 at p=0.032) on subjective quality of life scale.  Further analysis of the
domains contributing to quality of life were also investigated, in the groups of high
 and low artistic activity as well as between gender.

                  THE  DISTURBING 
        All data was analyzed by means of a Pearson product-moment correlation and a correlation matrix was generated (see table 1). The data included background information for the participants, scores for the Frequency of Artistic Involvement Scale, the Comprehensive Quality of Life Scale, including its 14 various sub-scales, and the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Upon analyzing the data by means of regression analysis, no significant predictors were found.
 Table 1A summarizes the correlations between the main questionnaires of the study. To establish that similar domains were being assessed, The Satisfaction with Life Scale was found to correlate with the Comprehensive Quality of Life Scale at all levels; total quality of life r=0.678 at p=0.000, objective quality of life r=0.427 at p=0.002, and subjective quality of life r=0.666 at p=0.000.
        In direct opposition to the hypothesis, the artistic involvement scores were found to correlate negatively with the scales of life satisfaction and quality of life. However, only the subjective quality of life score correlated significantly with the artistic involvement score r= -0.311 at p= 0.032  The sub-scales of the Comprehensive Quality of Life Scale which correlate significantly with artistic involvement are subjective material well being at r= -0.286 at p= 0.049, subjective health at r= -0.297 at p= 0.04, and safety at r= -0.289 at 0.046.  The correlation of the artistic involvement score and the total quality of life score is approaching significance at r= -0.271 at p=0.063.
        The descriptive statistics for the sample are provided in table 2a,(note that gender separations will be discussed later). All quality of life indicators are found to be above the mean of the standardized norm group, (obj qol mean= 75.5 Sd=7.73, subj qol mean= 62.17 Sd=27.12, and tot qol mean= 137.67 Sd= 29.34), (Cummins, 1997).  However, no scores are greater than one Sd removed. In terms of the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS), the average from the sample was also slightly higher than the standardized norm group, mean=21.2 Sd=4.7 (Diener, 1984).
        By separating the participants into groups who have an above normal rate of artistic activity, score > 62.6458 (mean), and those who have a lower than normal rate of artistic activity, score < 62.6458 (mean) more elements can be examined. While the means for objective quality of life scores are almost identical, 79.26 for those high scorers versus 78.99 for the low scorers, the means for subjective quality of life scores and thus the means for total quality of life are greater for those less involved in the Arts. As shown those less involved in the Arts have higher scores in the domains of subjective emotion, safety, intimacy, subjective intimacy, productivity, subjective health, health, and subjective material well being. Those components which contribute to t life satisfaction and quality of life are surprisingly similar.
        Next to explore is the topic of gender. The mean of the mens' score were higher on the objective scales, by only 2 points, and lower on the subjective scale by 10 points, thus the females reported a higher total quality of life than the males, by approximately 8 points. Women displayed much more significant correlations of the sub-scales in relation to life satisfaction, subjective quality of life and total quality of life. The relationships between the subscales of the ComQol and life satisfaction and subjective quality of life, were significant for the men in the components of health, productivity, safety, and intimacy. For women the components were mainly all significant between the sub-scales and the factors of life satisfaction and subjective quality of life, excluding only productivity, communication, material well being and subjective well being. The mean scores were higher for females in the domains of subjective material well being, subjective health, productivity, intimacy, subjective intimacy, safety, subjective safety, subjective community and subjective emotion. (The subjective scales how important a particular domain in one's life is and also how satisfied one is with that domain.)
                                            SHEDDING   SOME   LIGHT
                                                                                       ON   THE    ISSUE



The main result to be extracted from this analysis is the fact that, within the student population at Saint Anselm, there exists a very small relationship between the factors of one’s artistic involvement and one’s quality of life and life satisfaction.  Surprisingly, those relationships which do exist with artistic involvement are negative.  Subjective quality of life (r= -.311 at p= .032) is the most important negative factor, as well as those particular domains for quality of life which were significant and negative, subjective material well-being (r= -.286 at p= .049), subjective health (r=-.297 at p=.04) and safety (r=-.289 at p=.046).  Does this suggest that people are being irreversibly harmed by the Arts and thus the subject should cease to exist as we know it?  Absolutely not.  Only these are the factors which are least sought after and gratified, in one’s life as one’s artistic expression increases.  Also, those individuals that are more artistic may also be less idealistic and not display the need to supress their negative feelings, which may not even be viewed as negative.  Although such findings are the antithesis of all research, information, and hypothesis that was provided in the introduction (Baum, 1997; Dawson at al., 1972; Goff, 1993; Hoffman, 1978; Longman, 1994; Paffard, 1970; Schaefer-Simmons, 1970; & Spaniol, 1997), this leaves much to be examined.
 When correlating the subjective quality of life scale with the scale assessing satisfaction with life, it was found that both were reliably assessing similar domains (r= .666 at p<.05).  Original questions involving artistic activity being addressed, the results indicated a variety of useful information as to which components affect quality of life and life satisfaction in different groups.  The participants were grouped according to those scoring above and below the mean on the Frequency of Artistic Involvement Scale.  High scores correlated with the life satisfaction scale in the areas objective, subjective, and total quality of life, subjective material well-being, health, productivity, and safety, and areas of safety and health.  Low scorers only correlated with both emotion categories, subjective productivity and negatively with material well-being.  This dispels the stereotype that the more heavily one is involved in the Arts, the more emotional he will be.  The subjective scores were more congruent between the groups with the disparity existing in emotion and safety (see table 3a).
 Integral to the understanding of these unfortunate findings, is the understanding of the involved population and its limitations.  All were Caucasian, and due to the typical demographics of the school, it is an educated guess that the individuals originally reside in the New England Area, from mid-to-upper class traditional families in which religion is valued.  Due to the fact that the mean age was 18.47, an overwhelming majority of students were involved in their first year at college, probably away from home for the first time in their lives.  As the introduction describes, this is an extremely turbulent time, pervading in great uncertainty about the self, as well as one’s role in the environment.  Due to this fact, most would be unwilling to disrupt the norm, which on this campus is low artistic activity, and instead conform to those individuals around oneself.  Also, due to the fact that most of the students were from science-oriented majors, (the highest frequency was found to be nursing and psychology majors), this adds an additional element.  As the philosophy of our society dictates, the emphasis is currently on the rational and scientific contributions to improving our lives, the aesthetic and expressive more superfluous detailing.  Perhaps this prejudice has become ingrained in the minds of those involved in the study, it is impossible to ascertain if this may cause the student to major in the sciences, or if by concentrating on such disciplines, the prejudice is made stronger.
 However, the environment of the college certainly does not attract such artistically-oriented people.  The rural location, saturation of the Catholic faith on all parts of education and life on campus, and offered curriculum, as containing a large number of core requirements and very conservative offerings, are not attractive features to the typically more liberal and free-spirited personalities of "artistic" people.  Most individuals at such private institutions have been ingrained college-bound from their conception, encouraged to fit into the mold by the social activities one would involve oneself in and also the curriculum of the education system in which one is groomed.  As the experience of the researcher confirms, math, science, and foreign languages are heavily stressed, often for the purpose of rearing for college and at the expense of the self.  When in senior year at high school, I was increasingly interested in taking art courses with some available elective space.  However, from a multitude of sources, including guidance counselors, I was convinced that this would be a grave mistake, instead one should continue as I had been doing with two languages and more advanced placement courses than anyone ever needs.  There is certainly a hierarchy in education, blatantly displayed when I was told that such art courses are only for the low-level students and it would be a waste of time and knowledge to take them.  This example of absurdity is by  no means isolated.  The study suggests that college fit is a very important factor in assessing one’s quality of life and level of satisfaction with one’s life.  Institutions such as Saint Anselm College cater to those students who are left brain dominant, emphasizing the language-oriented, rational applications of life.  Those students with an inclination toward the capabilities of the right brain; creativity, visual features, and emotional associations are at a distinct disadvantage.  Perhaps these individuals may assign themselves the role of the outcast or outsider due to the fact that this is the title, which the environment supports.
 In order to more correctly understand the relationships between the variables of artistic involvement and quality of life/life satisfaction, different types of populations, (symbolizing a range of diverse backgrounds, personalities, interests and ages), must be explored.  This age level needs to be better examined in order to assess the situation.  Some suggestions involve conducting the study at a large public university, an art school, at an organization in which the full-time employees are young, making the decision to begin to work rather than continue schooling, as well as another small, private school to ensure the findings were not random.  Also, care should be taken that the age ranges of the school are better represented to test for other variables that may be confounding the results.
 Also, the information concerning the role of the Arts in one’s background and involvement need to be considered.  This could be as simple as asking how involved one’s parents are, one’s earliest memories and activities with the Arts, and finally when this activity ceases, if ever.  It is important to understand when this prejudice occurs, and what actions are necessary to combat it.
 However, the results yielded some very interesting information involving factors that enable quality of life and life satisfaction, separate from those which develop due to artistic activity.  It was decided that the focus would be directed to the subjective elements in the college population.  This was due to the fact that those components involved in the objective score, such as money earned, amount of sleep, and times of social events are extremely different than the rest of the population.
 The next groups, which were examined, were the male versus female groups.  Males deriving life satisfaction from subjective health and productivity and also from safety.  Females were more likely to be affected by the areas of subjective material well-being, health, productivity, safety and emotion, as well as objective, health, safety, communication and emotion.  Women tend to take a more global, complex view in determining their life satisfaction, while men were more simplistic, reduced to the basic factors in determining their lives’ importance.  Subjective quality of life resulted in somewhat different findings for the males, as well as the three mentioned above, also subjective and objective intimacy correlated highly.  Intimacy was also confirmed on this scale as important for the females, as well as subjective communication (see table 3b).
In addition to those suggestions previously mentioned above for areas of research in the arts, it is also important that investigation into the factors that determine quality of life and life satisfaction continue.  As was discussed earlier, simply living is not enough.  Man must make the best of his condition and pursue those activities that provide enjoyment as well as growth.  Although it has been shown that artistic activity is included in such a  category, the results from this study did not confirm that fact that artistic activity increases one’s quality of life and life satisfaction.  If this is not a component, then the need to search out other avenues to increase life satisfaction are necessary.  The quest continues.

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