The Influence of Cognitive Fluency

We’ve seen before how the cog­nit­ive flu­ency (how ‘easy’ it is to think of or com­pre­hend some­thing) of res­taur­ant menus, stock tick­er codes and phys­ic­al exer­cises influ­ence how com­plex, risky and even beau­ti­ful we per­ceive them to be.

A recent PsyB­log art­icle provides a sum­mary of a num­ber of cog­nit­ive flu­ency stud­ies and here are the ones I’ve not seen before (some of which I would­n’t have even con­sidered to be related to cog­nit­ive flu­ency):

  • A writer is per­ceived as hav­ing a high­er intel­li­gence if his writ­ing is uncom­plic­ated.
  • Non-nat­ive res­id­ents of a coun­try are thought of more neg­at­ively than the nat­ives.
  • Flu­ent speak­ers are regarded as being more know­ledge­able and intel­li­gent (although it was also found that hes­it­a­tions in speech cause spe­cif­ic words to be remembered more than others–the word(s) dir­ectly fol­low­ing the hes­it­a­tion).
  • A block of text describ­ing a product can double the amount of people will­ing to pur­chase that product if it is writ­ten in an easy-to-read font.
  • Phys­ic­al (sen­sor­imo­tor) flu­ency causes pleas­ure.
  • Cog­nit­ive flu­ency allows us to reas­on quickly and effort­lessly.

The art­icle con­cludes with:

Like math­em­aticians search­ing for the shortest for­mula to describe a com­plex phe­nomen­on, we should all be obsessed with sim­pli­city, because in sim­pli­city lies beauty and the human mind, as we’ve just seen, finds it dif­fi­cult to res­ist.