Which Typeface Engenders the Most Trust?

sample of Baskerville fonts

Have you ever seen a résumé written in comic sans? Regardless of the content, the applicant has probably hurt him/herself. Little details in writing, such as the typeface, can subtly persuade or dissuade a reader. Errol Morris of the New York Times writes:

But is there a font that promotes, engenders a belief that a sentence is true? Or at least nudges us in that direction? And indeed there is.

It is Baskerville.

Psychologist David Dunning of Cornell University discovered this by asking people to evaluate the validity of statements. He used six different typefaces: Baskerville, Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, Comic Sans and Trebuchet. Respondents were more likely to agree with a statement if it was written in Baskerville. Why? Dunning speculates:

The word that comes to my mind is gravitas. There are some fonts that are informal — Comic Sans, obviously — and other fonts that are a little bit more tuxedo. It seems to me that Georgia is slightly tuxedo. Computer Modern is a little bit more tuxedo and Baskerville has just a tad more starchiness. I would have expected that if you are going to have a winner in Baskerville, you are also going to have a winner in Computer Modern. But we did not. And there can be a number of explanations for that. Maybe there is a slight difference in how they are rendered in PCs or laptops that causes the starch in Computer Modern to be a little softer than the starch in Baskerville.

Link -via American Digest | Image: Baskerville fonts, Cambridge University Library


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