Simon Day | The power of Baskerville

How would you respond to different typeface, and would it influence a seemingly free decision.

The following two webpages are part of an experiment by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris on unwitting readers of the New York Times. He devised a webpage that included a statement to which he asked the readers opinion, but it randomly rendered it in one of six fonts. You can view it here:

He then collected the results to see if one fonts was selected more often, even though the webpage never mentioned fonts and the reader was not aware they were even part of the experiment. The results are here:

He found that when the statement was written in Baskerville, it was selected slightly more often than when it was written in the other fonts, a significant outcome given the experiment included results from over 45000 people.

This is an interesting experiment which proves the power of font when displaying information. As mentioned before, when in an archive, font has the power to affect whether we see the contents as pure truth, or whether the contents are viewed as an abstract, open to interpretation.

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