Can the arts get under the skin?

Arts and cortisol for economically disadvantaged children

Eleanor D. Brown, Mallory L. Garnett, Kate E. Anderson, and Jean-Philippe Laurenceau

This within-subjects experimental study investigated the influence of the arts on cortisol for economically disadvantaged children. Participants were 310 children, ages 3–5 years, who attended a Head Start preschool and were randomly assigned to participate in different schedules of arts and homeroom classes on different days of the week. Cortisol was sampled at morning baseline and after arts and homeroom classes on two different days at start, middle, and end of the year. For music, dance, and visual arts, grouped and separately, results of piecewise hierarchical linear modeling with time-varying predictors suggested cortisol was lower after an arts versus homeroom class at middle and end of the year but not start of the year. Implications concern the impact of arts on cortisol for children facing poverty risks.

This project was supported by an award from the Research: Art Works program at the National Endowment for the Arts Grant #13-3800-7004. Additional support was provided by the West Chester University College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Psychology.

Source: Article Abstract