With evidence that arts engagement and nonlinear thinking style both utilize insight, intuition, and emotion in the decision making process, the literature has driven an investigation of the relationship between levels of arts engagement and thinking style preference. This nonexperimental correlational study (N = 101) explored (a) the prevalence of linear, nonlinear, or balanced linear/nonlinear thinking style of professionals working in museums. (b) Whether thinking style has a relationship with (i) age; (ii) sex; (iii) academic major; (iv) occupation; (v) levels of arts engagement. Two theoretical frameworks underpinned this study: (a) new literacies and (b) cognitive styles.
A Web-based self-report survey instrument was used to investigate the relation among the variables of interest. Existing literature was used to provide a foundation for the study and guide the research. Correlational, means, and hierarchical regression analysis were used to test the hypothesized model and examine the hypotheses. The means analyses at the descriptive level revealed that females, those in the 60 or older age group, Humanities majors, and those who worked in education demonstrated more balanced linear/nonlinear thinking styles. The correlations results indicated that there was a statistically significant relationship between thinking style and sex and thinking styles and academic major. The hierarchical regression results suggested that after controlling for select demographic variables, only being a Humanities major uniquely predicted significant variance in thinking style. The lack of significant findings of a relationship between thinking style and age did not correspond to existing research that supports a correlation. Additionally, a significant relationship between thinking style and levels of arts engagement was not found during correlational and hierarchical regression analysis.
A limitation of this research study was that the Web-based self-report survey version of the Linear/Nonlinear Thinking Style Profile (LNTSP) instrument did not transfer well to online use because the participants had some problem understanding how to score their answers properly. This issue could be handled readily and recommendations are made to revise the Web-base self-report version of the survey for future research use.