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Eye movements in reading versus nonreading tasks: Using E-Z Reader to understand the role of word/stimulus familiarity

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Abstract:

In this paper, we extend our previous work (Reichle, Pollatsek, & Rayner, 2012) using the principles of the E-Z Reader model to examine the factors that determine when and where the eyes move in both reading and nonreading tasks, and in particular the role that word/stimulus familiarity plays in determining when the eyes move from one word/stimulus to the next. In doing this, we first provide a brief overview of E-Z Reader, including its assumption that word familiarity is the “engine” driving eye movements during reading. We then review the theoretical considerations that motivated this assumption, as well as recent empirical evidence supporting its validity. We also report the results of three new simulations that were intended to demonstrate the utility of the familiarity check in three tasks: (1) reading; (2) searching for a target word embedded in text; and (3) searching for the letter O in linear arrays of Landolt Cs. The results of these simulations suggest that the familiarity check always improves task efficiency by speeding its rate of performance. We provide several arguments as to why this conclusion is not likely to be true for the two nonreading tasks, and, in the final section of the paper, we provide a fourth simulation to test the hypothesis that problems associated with the misidentification of words may also curtail the too liberal use of word familiarity.

Keywords: E-Z Reader; Familiarity; Landolt-C search; Reading; Saccades; Visual search

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13506285.2012.667006

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology,University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh,PA, USA 2: Department of Psychology,University of California, San Diego,CA, USA 3: Department of Psychology,University of Massachusetts, Amherst,MA, USA

Publication date: 2012-04-01

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