Hedges and Readers: Effects on Attitudes and Learning
Hedges, which signal writers' tentative assessments of referential information, were added to a passage from both a science and a social studies textbook. The hedges appeared in either the personal or the impersonal voice, in the first half, second half, or both halves of a passage and in either a low or high intensity condition. Results on an attitude measure showed that hedges in controversial texts usually helped to change readers' attitudes positively toward the subject matter: all readers of science passages, especially females, and some readers of social studies passages were influenced positively. In general, those students who learned the most from reading the science and the social studies passages were those who read the passages with hedges included. The most dramatic results for positive attitude changes were for hedges in personal voice, high intensity, and both halves of the science passage and hedges in personal voice, low intensity, and the second half of the science and social studies for learning. The results point out the importance of studying contexts, gender differences, and the interactions of subject matter, attitudes, and hedges when trying to understand the effects and most appropriate uses of hedges.