Haiku, Nature, and Narrative: An Empirical Study of the Writing Paradigm and Its Theories



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The present study continued an examination of haiku poetry within the context of the writing paradigm. Groups were compared with respect to three factors?writing type (narrative, haiku, or haibun), image content (nature or non-nature), and affective valence (positive or negative)?on short-term effects (arousal, affective valence, and flow), as well as longer-term negative (anxiety, depression, physiological symptomatology) and positive attributes (spiritual meaning, creativity, mindfulness). The study included a representative sample of 235 participants from a large southwestern university. Longer-term measures were compared using a priori contrasts and Analysis of Covariance, while short-term measures were analyzed via a priori contrasts and Repeated Measures Analysis of Variance.

In comparing groups whose writing involved narrative versus those that wrote only haiku, there was some evidence that participants experienced greater salubrious change when their writing included narrative: mindfulness, change in affective valence, and flow all increased. There were no significant differences between participants who wrote haiku about nature versus a non-nature topic. Relative to those writing haiku in response to negative nature images, those writing haiku in response to positive nature images evinced decreased depressive symptomatology, increased physiological symptomatology, and greater positive change in affective valence. Finally, flow served as a significant main effect for post-writing affective valence across groups, in addition to pre-writing affective valence: the effect was consistent for the narrative group, developed over time for the haiku group, and decreased over time for the haibun group. None of the groups demonstrated significant change on the longer-term measures from baseline to follow-up, however, raising questions about the effectiveness of writing in response to images. The implications of the present study and possibilities for future research are discussed.