Have you heard of the cognitive fluency bias?
No? I hadn't either up until yesterday when I came across a YouTube video about persuasion.
But once I got the concept, I knew it was something every writer should be aware of.
So, cognitive fluency is the ease with which our brain can process and understand a message.
Now to the bias part: If a sentence is easy to understand, we tend to believe it more.
So, how can you use that to your advantage?
Use small, common words that your audience is familiar with. And avoid puffed-up jargon that's tough to understand.
Examples of small, common words are: ask, big, talk, wet, walk, high, see.
So, should you banish all SAT words from your vocabulary and only write at a 4th-grade reading level?
Not so fast! Small words have one significant disadvantage.
They lack precision. They're often too broad to accurately express what we want to convey.
Ultimately, we want to paint a vivid picture with our writing (otherwise, it can fall flat).
Instead of "walking in the park," we might want to "stroll through the park." And instead of "arguing with our partner," we might actually "bicker about everything and nothing."
So, which words should you use?
Here's a rule of thumb: Use the most precise words that your audience will understand.