As the world seeks answers to their questions about the coronavirus, the study shows how vital it is for anyone giving valid health advice online to understand how readers judge the backdrop and atmosphere surrounding the presented information as well as the words.
Dr Harry J Witchel, an expert in body language at BSMS, run by the universities of Brighton and Sussex, and lead author of the study, said: “This is all about trust which is vital at the moment. If you’re reading something online and you instinctively don’t believe what it’s saying, then you won’t follow the advice. If the advice is genuine and important, then that’s a real problem, particularly at present when people are dying because others aren’t following important guidance.
“We’ve known for some time that people profoundly alter their judgments about what they hear based on contextual cues rather than just the content of what is said. But this research looks at how ‘shouting’ and typographic errors both reduce the credibility of what is being read, and is the first to show that the effects of both these errors add together quite precisely -- as though readers were keeping score in their minds of all these little things.