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Cognitive and affective benefits of coloring: Two randomized controlled crossover studies

Holt, Nicola J.; Furbert, Leah; Sweetingham, Emily


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Nicola Holt
Associate Professor in Psychology

Leah Furbert

Emily Sweetingham


This research sought to replicate and extend work suggesting that coloring can reduce anxiety, asking whether coloring can improve cognitive performance. In two experiments undergraduates (N = 47; N = 52) colored and participated in a control condition. Subjective and performance measures of mood and mindfulness were included: an implicit mood test (Experiment 1) and a selective attention task (Experiment 2) along with a divergent thinking test. In both experiments coloring significantly reduced anxiety and increased mindfulness compared with control and baseline scores. Following coloring participants scored significantly lower on implicit fear, than the control condition, and significantly higher on selective attention and original ideation. Coloring might not only reduce anxiety, but also improve mindful attention and creative cognition.


Holt, N. J., Furbert, L., & Sweetingham, E. (2019). Cognitive and affective benefits of coloring: Two randomized controlled crossover studies. Art Therapy, 36(4), 200-208.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 27, 2019
Online Publication Date Aug 21, 2019
Publication Date Oct 1, 2019
Deposit Date Apr 30, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 22, 2020
Journal Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association
Print ISSN 0742-1656
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 36
Issue 4
Pages 200-208
Keywords coloring, anxiety, mindfulness, selective attention, divergent thinking
Public URL


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