Thesis Title

Physiological Calming Effect of the Color Blue on Children

Graduation Date

Summer 1999

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


Elaine L. Cohen, EdD

First Reader

Richard Carolan, EdD, ATR-BC

Second Reader

Doris Arrington, EdD, ATR-BC


The purpose of the study was to test the hypothesis that for elementary school aged children, drawing in Art Therapy using the color blue can be more physically calming than drawing using other colors. The study used two groups; a control group and an experimental group. The control group was asked to choose three favorite colors and given a piece of paper. The experimental group was given three different shades of the color blue and a piece of paper. Each group was asked to do free drawings. Each subject’s heart rate and blood pressure were measured before and after drawing, by a monitor which, by means of an inflatable cuff placed on the subject’s upper arm, indicated both pulse and blood pressure. The results indicated that there were no differences in the calming effect between the two groups. A one-tailed t-test indicated that the difference of pulse rate between the two samples was not statistically significant (T=.096). Use of the color blue was shown to result in a slight decrease in the average measurement of heart rate the decrease was greater than with the use of other colors. At the same time, the use of other colors resulted in a slight decrease in the average number in the measurement of blood pressure. Although the findings show that drawing itself resulted in a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure for both groups, the measurements did not indicate that using the color blue resulted in a greater calming effect than using the other colors. The findings did not verify the hypothesis that children who used the color blue in their drawing would have a higher decrease in autonomic arousal as evidenced by measuring heart rate and blood pressure.