Social Indicators Research

, Volume 71, Issue 1–3, pp 11–59 | Cite as

Arts and the quality of life: an Exploratory study

  • Alex C. MichalosEmail author


The aim of this investigation was to measure the impact of the arts broadly construed on the quality of life. A randomly drawn household sample of 315 adult residents of Prince George, British Columbia served as the working data-set. Examining zero-order correlations, among other things, it was found that playing a musical instrument a number of times per year was positively associated with general health (r = 0.37), while singing alone a number of hours per week was negatively associated with general health (r = −0.19). The strongest positive associations with life satisfaction are satisfaction obtained from gourmet cooking and embroidery, needlepoint or cross-stitching, at r = 0.39 andr = 0.32, respectively. The satisfaction obtained from gourmet cooking (r = 0.35) and buying works of art (r = 0.32) were the most positive influences on happiness. The strongest associations with the Index of Subjective Well-Being are the satisfaction obtained from gourmet cooking (r = 0.37) and the satisfaction obtained from knitting or crocheting (r = 0.34). Examining multivariate relations, it was found that eight predictors combined to explain 59% of the variance in life satisfaction scores, with self-esteem satisfaction (β = 0.35) and friendship satisfaction (β = 0.27) most influential. Among the arts-related predictors in the eight, singing alone was fairly influential and negative (β = −0.18), while the satisfaction obtained from reading to others (β=0.08) and the Index of Arts as Self-Health Enhancers (β = 0.11) were somewhat less influential. When the arts-related predictors were combined with a set of domain satisfaction predictors, total explanatory power was increased by only 3 percentage points. Seven predictors could explain 58% of the variance in satisfaction with the overall quality of life scores. Of the arts-related predictors, only time spent going to non-art museums was significant (β = 0.07). Arts-related predictors did not increase explanatory power at all beyond that obtained from domain satisfaction variables alone. Eight predictors explained 42% of the variance in happiness scores, with the most influential predictors including satisfaction with self-esteem (β = 0.37) and financial security (β = 0.21), followed by the Index of Arts as Self-Developing Activities (β = 0.18). Arts-related predictors added 3 percentage points of explanatory power to that obtained from domain satisfaction scores. Seven predictors could explain 65% of the variance in scores on the Index of Subjective Well-Being, led by self-esteem satisfaction (β = 0.35) and financial security satisfaction (β = 0.30). The Index of Arts as Community Builders had a modest influence (β = 0.11), but all together, arts-related predictors increased our total explanatory power by a single percentage point. Summarizing these multivariate results, it seems fair to say that, relative to the satisfaction obtained from other domains of life, the arts had a very small impact on the quality of life (measured in four somewhat different ways) of a sample of residents of Prince George who generally cared about the arts. Even in absolute terms, arts-related activities could only explain from 5% to 11% of the variance in four plausible measures of the self-perceived quality of respondents’ lives. By comparing the composition of our sample with census data from 2001, it was demonstrated that the sample was not representative of residents of our city. It would, therefore, be wrong to generalize our findings to the whole population of Prince George or to any larger population.


Life Satisfaction Satisfaction Score Financial Security Domain Satisfaction Life Satisfaction Score 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Northern British ColumbiaPrince GeorgeCanada

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