Beyond one’s own understanding: How text comprehensibility affects laypeople’s decision about scientific claims


The study investigated whether the facilitating effect of high text comprehensibility on lay recipients’ inclination to rely on their own decision about scientific claims is mitigated if the presented information is controversial. Moreover, it was assessed whether the impact of both information features is mediated by perceptions of topic complexity. Lay readers read medical text information varying in comprehensibility and controversiality and indicated their agreement strength and confidence with contained claims. Results revealed that participants’ reliance on their own agreement decision was stronger after reading comprehensible than incomprehensible texts, but this difference was larger in case of uncontroversial than controversial information. However, these effects were not mediated by perceptions of topic complexity.

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