A line of research concerned with various aspects of museum fruition is presented. The first study concerns visitors’ approaches to museums that focus on different art styles (ancient vs. modern/contemporary art) and personality traits like Openness to experience and Sensation seeking. Results show that visitors to ancient art museums tend to conduct their visit according to motivations, expectations, and interests, with the aim of acquiring understanding and knowledge, referring to a more general kind of cognitive approach. Conversely, modern art museum visitors conduct their visit with an orientation that is primarily emotional and pleasure-seeking. Concerning personality traits, no difference was found between the two museum attendee groups on the “openness to experience” dimension. Differences were found on “sensation seeking”: modern art museum visitors scored higher on this trait than visitors to ancient art museums. The second study was designed to study undergraduate students’ attitudes and behaviour towards museum visits. Results show that about 30% of the sample had not visited any museum in the past 12 months. Explanations for not visiting museums were: lack of time, no interest, little information about exhibitions, the cost of the tickets and competing interests from other types of cultural activities like films and music shows. In the third research our aim was to study whether some mechanism of influence and persuasion could change attitude and behaviour towards museum visits. Cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy theory were used as the theoretical framework for the study (Festinger, 1957; Fried & Aronson 1995). Cognitive dissonance consists in an unpleasant feeling due to conflicting attitudes, or a conflict of behaviour and belief. According to the theory, people are driven to reduce the dissonance by changing one or another of the inconsistent features (beliefs or behaviors). Our idea was to create cognitive dissonance between museum-relevant attitudes and museum (non)visits. The design of the research is a simple two-group design. The first group (experimental - N=176,) received the cognitive dissonance treatment: participants devised a communication describing the importance of museum visits despite the small number of university students who visit museums. The second group (control - N=162) was asked only how many museums they visited in the last 12 months (the same question was asked of the experimental group). The hypothesis was that the dissonance induced in the experimental group would be reduced with a greater number of museum visits in the following 6 months compared to the control group. After 6 months a posttest questionnaire was administered asking both groups the number of museums they had visited in this period. The results show that the experimental group reached a mean score of 2.1 (SD 1.8) museums visited in the last 6 months; for the control group, the mean score was 1.8 museums visited (SD 1.6). We observe a slight increase of museum visits for people that received the experimental induction (but not statistically significant difference between these 2 groups). Inducing cognitive dissonance has only a minor effect on increasing the number of museum visits. We conclude that cognitive dissonance by itself is not sufficient and it should be supported by other procedures to increase museum attendance.
Mastandrea S, Bartoli G, & Crano WD (2012). Attitudes, motivations, emotions and behaviour towards museum visits. In 22nd Biennial Congress of International Asssociation of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA), Aesthetic@Media, Arts & Culture (pp.76-79).