Calling for disfluency

Calling for disfluency

On cognitive fluency, a preference for the easy:

Cognitive fluency is simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard.

“Every purchase you make, every interaction you have, every judgment you make can be put along a continuum from fluent to disfluent,” says Adam Alter, a psychologist at the New York University Stern School who co-wrote the paper on fluency and stock prices. “If you can understand how fluency influences judgment, you can understand many, many, many different kinds of judgments better than we do at the moment.”


[S]ome of the more interesting ramifications of the new work come from the suggestion that disfluency, rather than fluency, can sometimes be what’s called for. …  a few studies suggest that disfluency works well as a prompt to get people to think carefully and catch mistakes.

And wow:

In other words, to get people to think carefully and to prevent them from making silly mistakes, make them work to process the question: make the font hard to read, the cadence awkward, and the wording unfamiliar.

When I edit, I flip the context of whatever I’ve been working on. Editing on screen? Print it out to edit, and ferry it into another room to do a second round. Editing in print? Bring up the digital version for the second round. This media/location switch has been essential practice for about a decade. Now I have a word for it.