Coloring Mandalas + Test Anxiety

Trisha Barton was selected her junior year by Spelman's Psychology Department for the Psychology department’s Honor Program. This selection allowed the Psychology Department to support and to fund Trisha' s research. Her thesis title is “Mandala Coloring: Effectiveness in Reducing Test Anxiety, Time Dosages, and Test Anxious Types”. She completed her thesis and presented it in April of 2016. Information is limited to protect the procedures of the study and potential data collection.



Today test anxiety affects approximately 20-35% of students and the world’s increasing competitive nature is adding to the stress and anxiety of students (Damer & Melendres, 2012; Ergene, 2005; Handelzalts & Keinan, 2010). The following study investigates whether or not mandala (complex geometric design) coloring is effective in reducing test anxiety in a convenience sample of undergraduate African American females. It was hypothesized that coloring a complex geometric pattern (mandala) will decrease the level of state test anxiety significantly more than free-form design (blank circle).  A repeated measures experimental design was used to conduct the study.  After being deceived about taking an academic intelligence exam, participates were given a state anxiety assessment (STAI-6), and then randomly assigned to either color a mandala or blank circle for 10 minutes. Lastly, participants again took a state anxiety assessment (STAI-6) to see if anxiety was reduced. A one-way repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to evaluate the change in participant’s state anxiety assessment scores before and after participating in the coloring activity. Results indicated that were was no significant difference between the mandala pre and post state anxiety assessments, Wilks’ Lambda = .76, (F 2, 67) = 0.087, p > .01, n^2 =.05. Limitations of the study were methods of inducing test anxiety, choice, and length of treatment. These limitations suggest that future research should investigate paring mandala coloring with other effective techniques (e.g. cognitive reconstructing) practiced more than once (Ergene, 2003). Future studies should examine whether or not lengthening and training students to color mandalas as a meditative (relaxation training) and as a mindfulness exercise could be used to reduce test anxiety.  


         Keywords: Test, anxiety, STAI-6, mandalas, color therapy, mindfulness  


Curry, N., & Kasser, T. (2005). Can coloring mandalas reduce anxiety? Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association, 22 (2), 81-85. Retrieved February 17, 2015.

© 2018 by Trisha Barton