Jan 2020

The Effects Of Jargon On Processing Fluency, Self-perceptions, And Scientific Engagement

Citations: 47

Shulman, H.C., Dixon, G., Bullock, O.M., & Colon-Amill, D.

Journal of Language and Social Psychology


In this experiment (N = 650), we integrate ideas from the literatures on metacognition and self-perception to explain why the use of jargon negatively affects engagement with science topics. We offer empirical evidence that the presence of jargon disrupts people’s ability to fluently process scientific information, even when definitions for the jargon terms are provided. We find that jargon use affects individuals’ social identification with the science community and, in turn, affects self-reports of scientific interest and perceived understanding. Taken together, this work advances our knowledge about the broad effects of metacognition and offers implications for how the language of science may influence nonexpert audiences’ engagement with complex topics in ways beyond comprehension.

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