Cultural activities, artforms and wellbeing
IssueSocial benefits of the arts
Written by two economists, this report examines “the relationship between cultural engagement and momentary wellbeing” using a United Kingdom dataset called Mappiness, which collects information from a mobile app that captures people’s ratings of their happiness and relaxation as well as their activities at the time (including certain cultural activities). The authors caution that the dataset “is not fully representative of the UK” and that “causation cannot be directly inferred”.
The data from the mobile app show that all of the six arts and culture activities measured “are significantly associated with happiness and relaxation after controlling for a range of other factors”.
Between the six arts and culture activities, the ratings of happiness were highest among: 1) theatre, dance, and concert attendees; 2) those who sang or performed; 3) visitors to “exhibitions, museums, [and] libraries”; 4) participants in arts, crafts, and hobbies; 5) those who listened to music; and 6) those who read.
Some arts and culture activities ranked quite highly when compared with non-cultural activities. Theatre, dance, and concert attendance was second only to “intimacy, making love” on the happiness rankings.
Between the six arts and culture activities, the ratings of relaxation were highest for: 1) visitors to exhibitions, museums, and libraries; 2) participants in arts, crafts, and hobbies; 3) theatre, dance, and concert attendees; 4) those who sang or performed; 5) those who read; and 6) those who listened to music.
Visits to exhibitions, museums, libraries were third overall on the rankings of relaxation, behind only “intimacy, making love” and “birdwatching, nature watching”.