Does Providing Undergraduate Students the Opportunity to Draw Facilitate Verbal Reports of Emotional Experiences?
The transition to a tertiary institution is a major period of change for individuals as they encounter increased access to new experiences and opportunities while adapting to different living arrangements, styles of teaching, and other changes to their lifestyle. During this transition, levels of psychological distress are at their highest. The high prevalence of mental illness in the adolescent student population is a major concern and developmentally appropriate assessment tools are required. The main aim of this thesis was to examine the utility of using drawing with undergraduate students to elicit information about emotional experiences that may be relevant in clinical settings. Thirty-five undergraduate psychology students from the University of Otago, aged between 17- and 22-years-old were asked to provide an account of a time when they experienced four different emotions; two positive (happy or proud/confident) and two negative (angry or worried/nervous). Participants were given the opportunity to draw while describing one negative event and one positive event; for the remaining two events participants were just asked to tell. Overall, drawing did not facilitate the recall of emotional events in undergraduates. When the data were compared to prior studies conducted with children, undergraduates reported two to three times more information than did children. In fact, even without the addition of drawing, the undergraduates‘ reports contained much more information than did the reports of children. Given their more sophisticated language and narrative skills, participants of this age (17- to 22-years) no longer benefited from the additional support that was provided by drawing. This initial finding suggests that drawing may not be a particularly useful tool to utilise in mental health settings with undergraduate students.
Advisor: Hayne, Harlene
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: drawing; recall; emotion; experiences; facilitate; undergraduate; mental health
Research Type: Thesis