Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya • ISSN 2075-7999
peer-reviewed • open access journal


Berezner T.A., Gorbunova E.S. Improving text memorization by changing fonts: the study of Sans Forgetica

Full text in Russian: Березнер Т.А., Горбунова Е.С. Улучшение запоминания текста посредством изменения шрифтов: исследование Sans Forgetica

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

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Recently, the idea of beneficial effect of perceptually disfluent, poorly legible fonts on memory has been actively discussed. Among the explanations for the positive effect is the "desirable difficulties" approach, according to which the disfluent fonts affect metacognitive processes while reading. Such interruption is thought to promote better information processing compared to ordinary, fluent fonts. In accordance with this approach, a special, initially disfluent font Sans Forgetica was designed in 2018 to improve memorization of texts. Existing studies still debate on the strength of the disfluency effect or even on its existence. For example, according to the cognitive load theory it is better to apply fluent, easy-to-read fonts. In order to examine this issue, we conducted a study, which involved 69 participants. Participants were presented with a short text in English with 15 open questions afterwards. Four experimental groups were formed based on the specific font: Times New Roman, Arial, Comic Sans or Sans Forgetica. Given the non-native English speakers as participants, the level of English proficiency was considered as an additional independent variable. We hypothesized that the participants from the third and fourth groups would score higher in the memorization test, since the text presented to them was written in disfluent fonts. Furthermore, it was planned to study whether the degree of English proficiency would affect the success of solving the problem when using different fonts. No significant differences were found between the participants with different level of English proficiency and the type of font. In particular, the Sans Forgetica font has not proven to be more effective for storing information. This result is consistent with recent studies that failed to observe the disfluency effect.

Keywords: memory, learning, processing fluency, disfluency, desirable difficulties, cognitive load, reading, fonts, Sans Forgetica

Full text in Russian >>

The authors thank the anonymous reviewer for careful reading and valuable comments on the manuscript of the article.

The study was supported by the HSE Basic Research Program in 2021.

Cyrillic letters are transliterated according to BSI standards. The titles are given in author’s translation.

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Received 29 April 2021. Date of publication: 29 August 2021.

About author

Berezner Timofei A. Research Assistant, Laboratory for Cognitive Psychology of Digital Interface Users, Student, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, HSE University, st. Myasnitskaya 20, 101000 Moscow, Russia.

Gorbunova Elena S. PhD in Psychology, Laboratory Head, Laboratory for Cognitive Psychology of Digital Interface Users, Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, HSE University, st. Myasnitskaya 20, 101000 Moscow, Russia.

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Berezner T.A., Gorbunova E.S. Improving text memorization by changing fonts: the study of Sans Forgetica. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 2021, Vol. 14, No. 78, p. 2.

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