Eye movements and word skipping during reading: effects of word length and predictability

Rayner, Keith, Slattery, Timothy J., Drieghe, Denis and Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 (2011) Eye movements and word skipping during reading: effects of word length and predictability. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 37 (2). pp. 514-528. ISSN 0096-1523

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0020990


Eye movements were monitored as subjects read sentences containing high- or low-predictable target words. The extent to which target words were predictable from prior context was varied: Half of the target words were predictable, and the other half were unpredictable. In addition, the length of the target word varied: The target words were short (4?6 letters), medium (7?9 letters), or long (10?12 letters). Length and predictability both yielded strong effects on the probability of skipping the target words and on the amount of time readers fixated the target words (when they were not skipped). However, there was no interaction in any of the measures examined for either skipping or fixation time. The results demonstrate that word predictability (due to contextual constraint) and word length have strong and independent influences on word skipping and fixation durations. Furthermore, because the long words extended beyond the word identification span, the data indicate that skipping can occur on the basis of partial information in relation to word identity.

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