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How Certain Fonts Reduce Political Polarity

November 4, 2012, 3:00 PM

What's the Latest Development?

When people consume information in a difficult-to-read font, they are likely to form a more moderate opinion of the information they have read, suggests a study just published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. In one experiment, individuals who read an overtly political argument about capital punishment in challenging font were less polarized than a control group who were given an easy-to-read font. "The study is the first to use difficult-to-read materials to disrupt what researchers call the 'confirmation bias,' the tendency to selectively see only arguments that support what you already believe."  

What's the Big Idea?

Two separate experiments confirmed that both deeply-held political beliefs as well as recently formed biases can be mollified by disrupting the rote ways in which people receive information. Ivan Hernandez, who led the capital punishment/mock trial study with University of Illinois psychology professor Jesse Preston said: "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."

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How Certain Fonts Reduce Po...

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