Thursday, November 12, 2009

No Big Deal, Just the "Name Ease" Effect

A study from Psychological Science:
We demonstrate that merely naming a research finding elicits feelings of ease (a "name-ease" effect). These feelings of ease can reduce or enhance the finding's perceived importance depending on whether people are making inferences about how understandable or how memorable the finding is. When people assess their understanding of a finding, feelings of ease reduce the finding's perceived importance. This is because people usually invest effort to understand important information but also mistakenly infer the reverse—namely, that information that requires effort to be understood is important. In contrast, when people assess the memorability of a finding, feelings of ease increase the finding's perceived importance. Because people usually recall important information easily, in this case they equate ease with importance.
Other parts that increase feelings of ease in understanding some phenomenon is if the visual features are clear, the vocab is simple, and the word is easy to pronounce.

Of the blogs I read, MR has the most "messy" visual look to it--a small header, an awkwardly large center section and cluttered sidebars with content asymmetrically distributed. Maybe this keeps people on their toes when they are reading it. Perhaps because it is more of a challenge it makes it more fun for people who self-select as smart enough to read it.