How strongly do word reading times and lexical decision times correlate? Combining data from eye movement corpora and megastudies

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2013;66(3):563-80. doi: 10.1080/17470218.2012.658820. Epub 2012 Apr 24.


We assess the amount of shared variance between three measures of visual word recognition latencies: eye movement latencies, lexical decision times, and naming times. After partialling out the effects of word frequency and word length, two well-documented predictors of word recognition latencies, we see that 7-44% of the variance is uniquely shared between lexical decision times and naming times, depending on the frequency range of the words used. A similar analysis of eye movement latencies shows that the percentage of variance they uniquely share either with lexical decision times or with naming times is much lower. It is 5-17% for gaze durations and lexical decision times in studies with target words presented in neutral sentences, but drops to 0.2% for corpus studies in which eye movements to all words are analysed. Correlations between gaze durations and naming latencies are lower still. These findings suggest that processing times in isolated word processing and continuous text reading are affected by specific task demands and presentation format, and that lexical decision times and naming times are not very informative in predicting eye movement latencies in text reading once the effect of word frequency and word length are taken into account. The difference between controlled experiments and natural reading suggests that reading strategies and stimulus materials may determine the degree to which the immediacy-of-processing assumption and the eye-mind assumption apply. Fixation times are more likely to exclusively reflect the lexical processing of the currently fixated word in controlled studies with unpredictable target words rather than in natural reading of sentences or texts.

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Decision Making / physiology*
  • Eye Movements / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Names
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Reading*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Semantics*
  • Time Factors
  • Vocabulary