Universality in eye movements and reading: A replication with increased power

Liversedge, Simon Paul orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8579-8546, Olkoniemi, Henri, Zang, Chuanli orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-9573-4968, Li, Xin, Yan, Guoli, Bai, Xuejun and Hyönä, Jukka (2024) Universality in eye movements and reading: A replication with increased power. Cognition, 242 . ISSN 0010-0277

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2023.105636


Liversedge, Drieghe, Li, Yan, Bai and Hyönä (2016) reported an eye movement study that investigated reading in Chinese, Finnish and English (languages with markedly different orthographic characteristics). Analyses of the eye movement records showed robust differences in fine grained characteristics of eye movements between languages, however, overall sentence reading times did not differ. Liversedge et al. interpreted the entire set of results across languages as reflecting universal aspects of processing in reading. However, the study has been criticized as being statistically underpowered (Brysbaert, 2019) given that only 19-21 subjects were tested in each language. Also, given current best practice, the original statistical analyses can be considered to be somewhat weak (e.g., no inclusion of random slopes and no formal comparison of performance between the three languages). Finally, the original study did not include any formal statistical model to assess effects across all three languages simultaneously. To address these (and some other) concerns, we tested at least 80 new subjects in each language and conducted formal statistical modelling of our data across all three languages. To do this, we included an index that captured variability in visual complexity in each language. Unlike the original findings, the new analyses showed shorter total sentence reading times for Chinese relative to Finnish and English readers. The other main findings reported in the original study were consistent. We suggest that the faster reading times for Chinese subjects occurred due to cultural changes that have taken place in the decade or so that lapsed between when the original and current subjects were tested. We maintain our view that the results can be taken to reflect universality in aspects of reading and we evaluate the claims regarding a lack of statistical power that were levelled against the original article.

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