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Easy-to-read instructions make task seem easier

Americas, Fri, 31 Oct 2008 IANS

Washington, Oct 31 (IANS) People are more willing to participate in a task if it does not seem to require too much effort. To make it seem that way, make the instructions easy to read.


University of Michigan psychologists Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz set about investigating how thinking about a task (how complex or simple it will be) affects our attitude toward the task itself.



The researchers tested this by trying to motivate a group of college students to exercise regularly by providing them with directions on how to implement an exercise regimen.



Half of the students received the directions written in standard, easy-to-read Arial font. The remaining students received the directions typed in Brush font (which looks like it has been written with a paintbrush and is difficult to read).



The students were then asked to estimate how long the exercise routine would take and if they would make it part of their daily routine. In the second experiment, students were provided with a recipe detailing how to prepare sushi, said a release of Association for Psychological Science.



As before, half of the group received an easy to read recipe while the remaining students received a recipe typed in a difficult to read font and all of the students were asked how difficult they thought it would be to make the sushi.



The students who received the exercise instructions written in the easy-to-read Arial font believed that the workout regimen would take less time and feel easier compared to the students who received the directions in the harder to read font.



More important, when the instructions were written in an easy-to-read font, the students were more willing to make exercise a part of their daily routine. The results of the second experiment were similar.



Again, the students who read the recipe in an easy-to-read font determined it would take a shorter time to prepare and not require a lot of culinary skill to complete.



The results were published in the October issue of Psychological Science.


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