Making information matter: Symmetrically appealing layouts promote issue relevance, which facilitates action and attention to argument quality

Brianna L. Middlewood, Karen Gasper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

What makes information relevant? We hypothesized that text displayed in a symmetrical, rather than asymmetrical, layout would be more appealing to people, and that appeal would then be used to infer that the topic is personally relevant. Relevance, in turn, should increase the degree to which people engage with the information presented in the message. In three experiments, respondents read text arranged symmetrically or asymmetrically. As predicted, symmetry influences relevance indirectly through appeal, such that symmetrical articles were more appealing than asymmetrical articles, and appeal predicted relevance. Relevance, then, predicted the desire to acquire and act on the information in the article (Experiment 2) and increased attention to argument quality, for participants were more influenced by strong, rather than weak, arguments (Experiment 3). Perceptions of reading difficulty and trustworthiness did not account for the findings, indicating that it is the appeal of symmetry which promoted issue relevance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-106
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume53
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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