The Desire for Aesthetics Scale

This scale lets you know how important aesthetic concerns are for each of your participants. It was developed by Duane E. Lundy, Miranda B. Schenkel, Talayna N. Akrie and April M. Walker. Their study shows that the scale provides reliable measurements of individual differences in motivation to seek out and care about a wide range of aesthetic stimuli. The paper includes all the items and necessary statistical information.

Lundy, D. E., Schenkel, M. B., Akrie, T. N., & Walker, A. M. (2010). How important is beauty to you? The development of the Desire for Aesthetics Scale. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 28, 73-92.

Chatterjee et al.’s (2010) Art Experience Questionnaire

Behavioral and neurobiological evidence that diverse forms of art experience influence how people approach and experience art has accumulated for decades. Although researchers are faced with the need to characterize such experience, there is no broadly used standard measure. Chatterjee and colleagues (2010) constructed a screening questionnaire to ascertain their participants’ art experience. As noted in their study, “The artistic experiences queried were: classroom experience in studio art, art history, art theory, and aesthetics, approximate frequency of visits to museums and galleries, and average weekly time committed to making, reading about, and looking at art. (…) The naïve and experienced groups differed significantly from each other in their art experience based on our screening questionnaire (6.07 vs. 27.45, t(88) = 19.29, p < 0.005). While there is no principled way to establish a categorical cut-off for experience, based on these distributions, we suggest that people with scores of 0 to 14 be considered artistically naïve, and those with scores greater than 14 be considered artistically experienced. We note that our participants did not include people with deep artistic experience like mature professional artists, art critics or museum curators.”

Download questionnaire

Chatterjee, A., Widick, P., Sternschein, R., Smith II, W. B., & Bromberger, B. (2010). The Assessment of Art Attributes. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 28, 207-222.


Smith and Smith’s (2006) Aesthetic Fluency Scale

Researchers have used dichotomous measures of expertise (experts vs. nonexperts), or have used a cut-off point on some sort of continuous measure to divide their participants into two groups. When they have used continuous measures, they have usually focused on the amount of training their participants have. As noted by Silvia (2007), Smith and Smith’s (2006) Aesthetic fluency scale, conversely, focuses on what people know about art instead of on how much they like it or how good they are at it. This scale asks participants to indicate how much they know about a number of figures and terms from art history.  It has the great feature of allowing researchers to adapt the scale for the visual arts and other domains by adding or changing items.

You can find an adaptation of Smith and Smith’s (2006) scale here, and Silvia’s (2007) validation study here.

And here is the abstract to Smith and Smith’s (2006) work from APA’s PsychNET:

Aesthetic fluency is the knowledge base concerning art that facilitates aesthetic experience in individuals. It can be acquired through direct instruction, but it can also be learned through experience. This experience occurs primarily in art museums, but it also occurs by reading books, visiting galleries, and on the Internet. We liken aesthetic fluency to vocabulary, and the development of aesthetic fluency to the development of vocabulary. There are artists or ideas in art that people do not know exist, others they are vaguely familiar with, and so on. This is true not only of artists and the ideas of art, but true about works of art as well. We surveyed 400 individuals who were visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art in June of 2003 to look at how they perceived knowledge of artists and ideas in art. We are encouraged by the results of the empirical study and by the overall congruence between what we have observed over the years in museums, and the model for aesthetic fluency understanding and development that the work in vocabulary development provides. We think that this approach to thinking about the knowledge base that people bring to museums and that they use as they appreciate the works of art before them is useful to a better comprehension of what goes on in museums.

Smith, L. F., & Smith, J. K. (2006). The nature and growth of aesthetic fluency. In P. Locher, C. Martindale, & L. Dorfman (Eds.), New directions in aesthetics, creativity, and the arts (pp. 47–58). Amityville, NY: Baywood.

Silvia, P. J. (2007). Knowledge-Based Assessment of Expertise in the Arts: Exploring Aesthetic Fluency. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 1, 247-249.

Stimulating research on the biological basis of aesthetics

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