HOW FONTS INFLUENCE THE WAY WE READ AND THINK. Chris Gayomali had an article on the The Week website which presented results of a survey on how readers react to different fonts. The results indicated that Baskerville promotes a belief in the credibility of a text better than other major fonts do and that Comic Sans MS is the least successful in providing credibility. Gayomali’s article has examples of some of the major fonts, including Baskerville and Comic Sans. David Dunning, a Cornell psychologist, who worked on the survey, has a theory that the credibility of fonts is related to how they look. He is quoted by Gayomali: “The word that comes to my mind is gravitas. There are some fonts that are informal — Comic Sans, obviously — and other fonts that are a little bit more tuxedo.” He thinks that: “Baskerville has just a tad more starchiness” than other fonts.
I think that the past usage of the fonts is an alternative explanation. I posted here about how David Ogilvy, the great advertising man, contended that if you wanted consumers to read the text, it should be in the same typefaces that they are accustomed to in magazines and newspapers—that is, in fonts that are used when information is communicated. Baskerville has been used in books and resembles the type faces that are used in print media. As this wikipedia article points out, Comic Sans was invented in 1994 and “based on the lettering style of comic books.”