Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis

Psychology Professor Delivers Research on Effects of Drawing on Stress

Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis delivered a presentation of his research project, “Measuring Blood-Glucose Levels to Distinguish between Psychological and Physiological Reductions in Stress after Drawing for 15 Minutes.”

Dr. Aris Karagiorgakis, assistant teaching professor of psychology at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, delivered a presentation of his research project, “Measuring Blood-Glucose Levels to Distinguish between Psychological and Physiological Reductions in Stress after Drawing for 15 Minutes,” on October 4.

The presentation was the first of a new colloquium series to feature faculty research. Dr. Karagiorgakis, noting the lack of controlled empirical studies on the trend of anxiety-reducing coloring books, set out to examine the perceived therapeutic benefits of drawing in a two-year study.

In the study, student participants were given self-assessments and blood-glucose tests to establish a baseline stress level. Participants were tested again after viewing a video of a mock crime scene and a series of stress-inducing images. Then, one group of participants was instructed to draw freely on a blank sheet, while the other group transcribed a scientific text. Participants were measured a final time before attempting to identify the criminal from the mock crime video.

“We found that drawing for fifteen minutes successfully reduced stress for our participants; but not just psychologically, as we observed a trend that there may also be a physiological benefit,” said Dr. Karagiorgakis. “This suggests that the good feelings you get from making art may not just be in your head.”

Further investigation into other biological markers is warranted. In future study, Dr. Karagiorgakis indicated a distinction between coloring and drawing and inclusion of mandala shapes in the assignment.

Dr. Karagiorgakis recently joined the Fayette campus from Black Hills State University in South Dakota, where he conducted the research over a period of two years. He was awarded a small grant to provide for student compensation, and he plans to publish and present his findings.

“Continued research in this area will have a significant impact on how we value the importance of creative expression and art making,” he said.

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