NCBI ROFL: Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly.

By ncbi rofl | June 15, 2010 7:00 pm

0615001037“Most texts on writing style encourage authors to avoid overly-complex words. However, a majority of undergraduates admit to deliberately increasing the complexity of their vocabulary so as to give the impression of intelligence. This paper explores the extent to which this strategy is effective.  Experiments 1-3 manipulate complexity of texts and find a negative relationship between complexity and judged intelligence. This relationship held regardless of the quality of the original essay, and irrespective of the participants’ prior expectations of essay quality. The negative impact of complexity was mediated by processing fluency. Experiment 4 directly manipulated fluency and found that texts in hard to read fonts are judged to come from less intelligent authors. Experiment 5 investigated discounting of fluency. When obvious causes for low fluency exist that are not relevant to the judgement at hand, people reduce their reliance on fluency as a cue; in fact, in an effort not to be influenced by the irrelevant source of fluency, they over-compensate and are biased in the opposite direction.”


Thanks to David for today’s ROFL!

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Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Read [pause] thee uh abstract.

WTF is NCBI ROFL? Read our FAQ!

  • AC

    TMFA – Too Many F*cking Acronyms

  • Georg

    words are called “long”? Those comprising more than 4 letters?

  • BillWhite36

    Take THAT, William F. Buckley, Jr.

  • The Thomas

    I definitely don’t perceive it that way. My experience is that the most literate people use the most sesquipedalian phraseology. So, my perception is that the most obtuse pontification comes from the people with the soundest educational background.


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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