Online Scammers' Secret Weapon: Comic Sans

More

tumblr_l7om2hsvUc1qb2pzh.jpgComic Sans is basically shorthand for stupid, in design terms. And no one in their right mind would divulge anything sensitive to a site that used it, right?

Sadly, that may not be true. According to a forthcoming study in the Journal of Consumer Research, "an unprofessional-looking interface" may make users more likely to part with sensitive data than a more polished design.

Researchers set up two survey websites, each asking participants a series of questions about their willingness to engage in certain kinds of embarrassing or unethical behavior (i.e. information they'd prefer to keep private). One site had a clean, official look with a Carnegie Mellon logo prominently displayed; the other addressed users with LOLspeak questions set in...Comic Sans.

tumblr_l7on2fqxvC1qb2pzh.jpg

Shockingly, users of the Comic Sans-addled site were almost twice as likely to admit embarrassing or unethical behavior -- even after taking a "pre-test" where they were shown both sites and asked which one seemed more trustworthy!

Suddenly, the person who posted this note  on the door seems less like a pedantic jerk and more like a smart cookie looking out for company security.

Granted, the study is just an early stab at gauging how "bad" design cues affect our judgment. And admitting on a survey that you once ate a donut out of a trash can is much different than thoughtlessly sharing your Social Security number online.

But the study implies something even more insidiously awful about Comic Sans than everything we already thought: Its stupidity may be contagious.

[via Ars Technica]

Jump to comments
Presented by

John Pavlus writes and makes films about science and technology for Wired, Scientific American, NPR, and others. You can follow him on Twitter @johnpavlus.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Fascinating Short Film About the Multiverse

If life is a series of infinite possibilities, what does it mean to be alive?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In