Is less readable liked better? The case of font readability in poetry appreciation

Gao, X., Dera, J., Nijhoff, A. D., & Willems, R. M. (2019). Is less readable liked better? The case of font readability in poetry appreciation. PLoS One, 14(12): e0225757. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0225757.
Previous research shows conflicting findings for the effect of font readability on comprehension and memory for language. It has been found that—perhaps counterintuitively–a hard to read font can be beneficial for language comprehension, especially for difficult language. Here we test how font readability influences the subjective experience of poetry reading. In three experiments we tested the influence of poem difficulty and font readability on the subjective experience of poems. We specifically predicted that font readability would have opposite effects on the subjective experience of easy versus difficult poems. Participants read poems which could be more or less difficult in terms of conceptual or structural aspects, and which were presented in a font that was either easy or more difficult to read. Participants read existing poems and subsequently rated their subjective experience (measured through four dependent variables: overall liking, perceived flow of the poem, perceived topic clarity, and perceived structure). In line with previous literature we observed a Poem Difficulty x Font Readability interaction effect for subjective measures of poetry reading. We found that participants rated easy poems as nicer when presented in an easy to read font, as compared to when presented in a hard to read font. Despite the presence of the interaction effect, we did not observe the predicted opposite effect for more difficult poems. We conclude that font readability can influence reading of easy and more difficult poems differentially, with strongest effects for easy poems.
Supplementary material
https://osf.io/jwcqt/
Publication type
Journal article
Publication date
2019

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