Psychological well-being and work in the dramatic arts: qualitative research of actors’ experiences

Keywords: psychological well-being, the arts, dramatic arts, qualitative research, students


Objective: Examining the experiences of students of a theater company pertaining to the impact of work in the dramatic arts on their psychological well-being.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 students of a theater company of different ages and levels of experience. The collected qualitative data were analyzed in the context of the six-factor Theory of psychological well-being, which includes: self-acceptance, positive relations with others, autonomy, environmental mastery, purpose in life, and personal growth. In addition to the above topics derived from a deductive approach to data, two additional topics are also discussed: reasons for enrolling in the theater and participants’ progress.

Results: The results of this research showed that acting contributes to the personal well-being of individuals. The participants most often mentioned an increase in self-confidence, a decrease in anxiety levels, a connection with other students, courage, and awareness of one’s own capabilities. In addition to the positive impact of acting on their lives, the participants also mentioned some negative aspects they had noticed when it comes to the behavior of others, such as a lack of accountability of some students, “pretending” in everyday life, and some prejudices regarding acting.

Conclusion: The results of the research support the idea that working in the arts, in this case the dramatic arts, can contribute to the psychological well-being of individuals. Sharing their experiences of working in the dramatic arts, the students of a theater company touched on all six domains of psychological well-being pertaining to the Theory of psychological well-being (Ryff & Keyes, 1995).

Research Articles