Doctoral Dissertations


Astrid Sheil

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Michelle Violanti


The purpose of this study was to examine if the influence of brain dominance as defined by Herrmann (1982, 1995), which includes left-brain/right-brain dominance and cerebral/ limbic dominance, offers predictive capabilities in determining preferences for communication channel selection, feedback frequency, and job satisfaction in organizations. The study also examined whether sex has a determining role in predicting preferences for communication channels, feedback, and job satisfaction. Raw scores from the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) were correlated with responses to a validated survey instrument, which combined items from the International Communication Association (ICA) Audit (Downs, 1988), and the Communication Satisfaction Questionnaire (CSQ) (Downs & Hazen, 1977). Participants were volunteers from four separate organizations who had taken the HBDI as part of a series of workshop seminars on "whole brain" thinking. Of the 210 participants, 108 were male and 102 were female. Insights into communication patterns in organizations were provided by Structuration Theory (Giddens, 1984), which proposes that social systems are produced and reproduced through daily communication interaction. The patterns that arise from the contradictions and tensions of daily interaction across time and space become real to us as institutions or organizations. Eleven hypotheses were tested using pairwise comparisons. Three hypotheses were rejected outright: (1) Males prefer left-brain communication channels; (2) Females prefer right-brain channels; (3) Individuals who are multi-dominant (strong preference for more than one type of thinking) are more satisfied with communication than single or double-dominant individuals. One explanation for the rejection of these hypotheses is that the female sample was significantly different than the general population of females. Partial support was registered for the other 8 hypotheses, indicating that brain dominance does influence communication channel preference and feedback. Unexpected results showed an uncanny consensus for certain communication channel preferences across all four quadrants of the brain, and consensus against certain communication channels-for all four organizations. These striking results indicated strong support for the effect of structuration in organizational communication. In essence, the power of structuration trumps the influence of brain dominance in organizations. Future studies will include a sample that is more left-brain/right-brain balanced (i.e. subjects will be chosen from a wide variety of professions, not just business) and the development of an independent survey instrument designed to more accurately measure the influence of brain dominance on communication preferences.

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