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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00975

Expression of Basic Emotions in Pictures by German and Vietnamese Art Therapy Students - a Comparative, Explorative Study

 Alexandra Danner-Weinberger1, Katharina Puchner1, Margrit Keckeis1,  Julia Brielmann1,  Mihnthuy Tri Thi2, Le Hoang The Huy2,  Luan Nguyen Huynh3, Nikolai Köppelmann1, Edit Rottler1,  Harald Gündel1 and  Jörn von Wietersheim1*
  • 1Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Ulm University Medical Center, Germany
  • 2Faculty of Psychology, Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam
  • 3Vietnam National University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

During art therapy self-experience workshops in Vietnam and Germany, the authors noticed that there were differences in how the groups expressed their feelings in paintings. This led the authors to a comparative, explorative study. In this study, each of the 29 workshop participants from Germany and Vietnam were instructed to draw pictures related to basic emotions like sadness, disgust, anger, or happiness. Then, the paintings were evaluated by using rating scales with which formal and content-oriented criteria can be assessed. The interrater reliability was good. The results showed some statistically significant differences. The Vietnamese participants used smaller formats and more colors with stronger color application. They preferred simpler forms than the Germans. The German participants painted in a more abstract manner, while the Vietnamese participants used more concrete and tended to scenic expressions (representation of stories). There are some reasons which might explain these differences: It is known that cultural influences play an important role in the arts as well as in the way creative arts are taught in a particular society. The expression of emotions is culture-specific as well. The Vietnamese participants were, however, interested in the possibilities art therapy offers and felt that there are good chances for this therapy to develop in their country.

Keywords: Art Therapy, Intercultural Comparisons, Asian and Western cultures, Self-therapy, Self-experience

Received: 15 Jan 2019; Accepted: 12 Apr 2019.

Edited by:

Omar C. Gelo, University of Salento, Italy

Reviewed by:

Jan P. Röer, Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Germany
Johanna Czamanski-Cohen, University of Haifa, Israel  

Copyright: © 2019 Danner-Weinberger, Puchner, Keckeis, Brielmann, Tri Thi, The Huy, Nguyen Huynh, Köppelmann, Rottler, Gündel and von Wietersheim. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jörn von Wietersheim, Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Ulm University Medical Center, Ulm, Germany,