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Sat Nov 3, 2012, 06:56 AM

Difficult-to-read font reduces political polarity, study finds

Liberals and conservatives who are polarized on certain politically charged subjects become more moderate when reading political arguments in a difficult-to-read font, researchers report in a new study. Likewise, people with induced bias for or against a defendant in a mock trial are less likely to act on that bias if they have to struggle to read the evidence against him.

The new research, reported in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, is one of two studies to show that subtle manipulations that affect how people take in information can reduce political polarization. The other study, which explores attitudes toward a Muslim community center near the World Trade Center site, is described in a paper in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

By asking participants to read an overtly political argument about capital punishment in a challenging font, the researchers sought to disrupt participants' usual attitudes to the subject, said graduate student Ivan Hernandez, who led the capital punishment/mock trial study with University of Illinois psychology professor Jesse Preston.

The intervention worked. Liberals and conservatives who read the argument in an easy-to-read font were much more polarized on the subject than those who had to slog through the difficult version.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-11-difficult-to-read-font-political-polarity.html

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Reply Difficult-to-read font reduces political polarity, study finds (Original post)
Bosonic Nov 2012 OP
barnabas63 Nov 2012 #1
Igel Nov 2012 #4
OnyxCollie Nov 2012 #2
Posteritatis Nov 2012 #3
caraher Nov 2012 #5

Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 08:11 AM

1. Hmmm that's really interesting..

Maybe you have to use more of your brain to read the hard font, and it makes you read it more critically??

"We showed that if we can slow people down, if we can make them stop relying on their gut reaction that feeling that they already know what something says it can make them more moderate; it can have them start doubting their initial beliefs and start seeing the other side of the argument a little bit more," Hernandez said.

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Response to barnabas63 (Reply #1)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 01:32 PM

4. Increases processing time.

In order to read faster, they need to pull on more knowledge and relate what they're reading to what they've already seen. Easy to make mistakes, and you try to minimize those using every strategy you know. Increases cognitive dissonance and helps knowledge integration. Doesn't let you skim and fill in the blanks the way your confirmation bias suggests.

Might try this in class. Except that the kids who don't see any point in learning anything and for whom any effort is too large will bail on the assignment.

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 12:26 PM

2. The difficult-to-read font forces people

to think about what they're reading.

If you want to people to accept a message without thinking about it too much, drop a few letters.

A right wing flier might have something like this:

Obams a Kenyn soclist n wnts to redstrbut the welth.

Maybe the misspellings on RW signs is intentional.

Nah.

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 12:54 PM

3. When I'm king of the future, all political literature shall be written in Wingdings. (nt)

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Response to Bosonic (Original post)

Sat Nov 3, 2012, 02:15 PM

5. Predictable result

I just read Daniel Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and there are many examples of exactly this sort of thing. A challenging font disrupts "cognitive ease" and forces one to engage more effortful thought processes (which he calls "System 2"). Most of the time we prefer "System 1" thinking, which excels at fitting new information into pre-existing patterns - the essence of a partisan response.

Great book, by the way...

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