The Mystery of Mandalas: The Effects of Coloring on Stress Reduction and Mood

Student: Olivia McDougall


  • Mary Radeke
  • Allyson Rogan-Klyve
  • Meaghan Nolte


Art therapy is commonly used across many different situations. Prior research has found that art, including painting and drawing, can improve mood and reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. Specifically, research has found that coloring mandalas can reduce stress more than coloring other prints or drawing on blank paper. However, the reason for mandala’s stress and anxiety reducing properties has yet to be entirely discovered—is the design of the mandala the cause, or some other factor? The author is curious if the effects of watching coloring are comparable to the effects of physically coloring, specifically in the case of mandalas. The present study will attempt to uncover part of the mystery behind mandalas by following the procedures of previous research on the topic. Through an online study, participants will answer mood and stress questionnaires (PANAS and SSSQ) and be subjected to a stress inducing activity. Following the stress activity, participants will either watch a video of someone coloring in a mandala, freely drawing on blank paper, or passively observing visual artwork. After the videos, participants will again complete stress and mood questionnaires. The author hypothesizes that the mandala condition will show the greatest reduction in stress in participants. Contributing to the research on art therapy and stress reduction is important to further help the individuals who can benefit the most from the effects of coloring on stress.


9 thoughts on “The Mystery of Mandalas: The Effects of Coloring on Stress Reduction and Mood”

  1. Aeryn F Kauffman

    Very cool! I want to color mandalas now. We did a project in art class in high school where we designed our own. I’ll send some questions!

  2. Great presentation Olivia! Cool research, and I thought that you were able to communicate this information verbally very effectively and in an engaging way!

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