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Effects of Word Length on Eye Movement Control: The Evidence from Arabic

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journal contribution
posted on 04.03.2015, 15:22 by Kevin B. Paterson, A. A. Almabruk Abubaker, Victoria A. McGowan, Sarah J. White, T. R. Jordan
The finding that word length plays a fundamental role in determining where and for how long readers fixate within a line of text has been central to the development of sophisticated models of eye movement control. However, research in this area is dominated by the use of Latinate languages (e.g., English, French, German) and little is known about eye movement control for alphabetic languages with very different visual characteristics. To address this issue, the present experiment undertook a novel investigation of the influence of word length on eye movement behavior when reading Arabic. Arabic is an alphabetic language that not only is read from right-to-left but has visual characteristics fundamentally different from Latinate languages, and so is ideally-suited to testing the generality of mechanisms of eye movement control. The findings reveal that readers were more likely to fixate and refixate longer words, and also that longer words tended to be fixated for longer. In addition, word length influenced the landing positions of initial fixations on words, with the effect that readers fixated the center of short words and fixated closer to the beginning letters for longer words, and the location of landing positions affected both the duration of the first fixation and probability of refixating the word. The indication now, therefore, is that effects of word length are a widespread and fundamental component of reading and play a central role in guiding eye-movement behavior across a range of very different alphabetic systems.

Funding

This research was supported by a PhD research studentship from the Libyan Government awarded to Abubaker Almabruk, a Mid-Career Research Fellowship from the British Academy awarded to Kevin Paterson, a Professorial Research Fellowship from the Economic Research Foundation awarded to Tim Jordan, and an ESRC Future Research Leaders Postdoctoral Fellowship awarded to Victoria McGowan.

History

Citation

Psychonomic Bulletin and Review February 2015

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND PSYCHOLOGY/Themes/Neuroscience & Behaviour

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Psychonomic Bulletin and Review February 2015

Publisher

Springer Verlag (Germany), Psychonomic Society

issn

1069-9384

eissn

1531-5320

Copyright date

3758

Available date

18/02/2016

Publisher version

http://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13423-015-0809-4

Editors

Goldinger, S

Language

en

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