Previous research suggests that utilitarian decisions to moral dilemmas often stem from analytic, controlled cognitive processes. Furthermore, processing disfluency can trigger analytic thinking and improve performance on tasks that require logic and cognitive reflection. In the present study we investigated how processing fluency affects the readiness with which people give utilitarian responses to both personal and impersonal dilemmas. Participants were presented in two different experimental blocks with dilemmas written in both easy- (fluent) and hard-to-read (disfluent) fonts. We expected that dilemmas written in a disfluent font would be associated with more utilitarian responses. Results supported this prediction, albeit only when the disfluent dilemmas appeared first, showing that participants endorsed more utilitarian actions in the disfluent condition than in the fluent condition across dilemma types. These data suggest that increasing processing disfluency by manipulating the font affects decisions in the moral domain.

Open Access