Home Theories Processing difficulty effect

Processing difficulty effect

Reviewed by expert Scientifically proven

Sure! The Processing Difficulty Effect is a cognitive bias that refers to how the ease or difficulty of processing information can affect our perception of it. Basically, when something is easy to process (i.e. we can understand or comprehend it quickly), we're more likely to view it positively or as more true. On the other hand, if something is difficult to process (i.e. we struggle to understand or comprehend it), we're more likely to view it negatively or as less true. This bias can be important to consider when designing websites, as it can impact how users perceive and respond to information presented on the site.

Table of contents:
  1. The Science Behind It
  2. Applying the Processing Difficulty Effect
    1. 1. Use Simple Language
    2. 2. Use Clear Visuals
    3. 3. Use Familiar Patterns
    4. 4. Use Repetition
  3. Conclusion

Sure! Here's a blog post about the Processing Difficulty Effect:

Understanding the Processing Difficulty Effect

As marketers, developers and UI/UX designers, we are always trying to find ways to influence our users to take specific actions. One of the ways we can do this is by using cognitive biases to alter their decision-making process.

One such bias is the Processing Difficulty Effect. This bias states that people are more likely to believe information that is presented in a way that is easy to process, rather than information that is presented in a way that is difficult to process.

The Science Behind It

The Processing Difficulty Effect is rooted in the way our brains process information. When we encounter new information, our brains have to work harder to understand and process it. This cognitive effort can lead to fatigue and make it more difficult for us to remember the information.

On the other hand, when we encounter information that is easy to process, our brains don't have to work as hard to understand it. This makes it more likely that we'll remember it and believe it.

Applying the Processing Difficulty Effect

So, how can we apply this cognitive bias to increase our conversion rates? Here are a few tips:

1. Use Simple Language

Use language that is easy to understand. Avoid technical terms or jargon that might confuse your users. Use short sentences and bullet points to help break up large blocks of text.

2. Use Clear Visuals

Incorporate visuals that are easy to understand. Use simple graphics or icons to communicate your message. Avoid cluttered designs that might overwhelm your users.

3. Use Familiar Patterns

Use familiar patterns that are easy to recognize. For example, if you're designing a form, use a layout that people are familiar with. This will make it easier for them to complete the form.

4. Use Repetition

Repetition can help make your message easier to remember. Consider repeating your key message throughout your website or marketing materials. This will help reinforce your message and make it more likely that users will remember it.


The Processing Difficulty Effect is a powerful cognitive bias that can be used to influence our user's decision-making process. By presenting information in a way that is easy to process, we can increase conversion rates and improve the user experience.

Remember to use simple language, clear visuals, familiar patterns, and repetition to make your message easy to process. By incorporating these techniques into your website or marketing materials, you'll be more likely to achieve your desired outcome.

A new cognitive bias in your inbox every week

You'll get to learn more about CRO and psychology. You'll be able to take experimenting to a whole new level!

* We send our mails on Monday morning btw.

Will you use psychology for your experimentation process?

Are you curious about how to apply this bias in experimentation? We've got that information available for you!

Join over 452+ users

  • Lifetime access to all biases
  • Filter on metrics, page type, implementation effort
  • More examples and code for experimentation

Choose your subscription!

Pay with Stripe

Lifetime deal PREMIUM

Get access to the search engine, filter page, and future features.

I want this

Lifetime deal

Get access to the search engine and filter page.

I want this

Do you think you know enough about CRO?

Join our monthly mailing to continue learning more and more about CRO and psychology.