I just read an interesting article about a study in motivation at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. The study involved presenting students with an exercise regime. One group had it presented in plain Arial font, the other in a hard-to-read messy font. Apparently the results, in terms of motivation, were remarkable. The plain font folks were motivated, thinking the regime would be relatively easy to do, wouldn’t require much time and would be fluid and easy. The harder font folks were the opposite – they thought the workout would be tough, time-consuming and they were not at all motivated to implement it in their own schedules.
Apparently the mode of presentation/communication had significantly influenced their perception of the content, and their motivation to apply the content. You can read the article and find out the second test study (involving cooking), here.
Now I’m not suggesting that we learn how to preach from studies in font use, but it does raise an interesting question for us. As communicators seeking to communicate and motivate, what “font” do we preach in? Do we communicate with accessible language, in a clear and easy to listen manner? Or do we adorn our sermons with inaccessible vocabulary, complex sentences, or do we deliver in a manner that requires real effort on the part of the listener? If we do, apparently it will influence their perception of our content, it will hinder their motivation to apply what they hear.