Investigating word length effects in Chinese reading

Zang, Chuanli orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9573-4968, Fu, Ying, Bai, Xuejun, Yan, Guoli and Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546 (2018) Investigating word length effects in Chinese reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 44 (12). pp. 1831-1841. ISSN 0096-1523

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A word’s length in English is fundamental in determining whether readers fixate it, and how long they spend processing it during reading. Chinese is unspaced and most words are two characters long: Is word length an important cue to eye guidance in Chinese reading? Eye movements were recorded as participants read sentences containing a one-, two-, or three-character word matched for frequency. Results showed that longer words took longer to process (primarily driven by refixations). Furthermore, skips were fewer, incoming saccades longer and landing positions further to the right of long than short words. Additional analyses of a three-character region (matched stroke number) showed an incremental processing cost when character(s) belonged to different, rather than the same, word. These results demonstrate that word length affects both lexical identification and saccade target selection in Chinese reading.

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