Paradigms and processes in reading comprehension

J Exp Psychol Gen. 1982 Jun;111(2):228-38. doi: 10.1037//0096-3445.111.2.228.


This article compares several methods of presenting text, including a new paradigm that produces reading-time data with many of the characteristics of naturally occurring eye-fixation data. In the new paradigm, called the moving window condition, a reader presses a button to see each successive work in a text, and the previous work is removed when a new work appears. The words appear in the same position that they would in normal test, and word-length information is available in peripheral vision. The results are qualitatively and quantitatively compared to the results obtained by monitoring the eye fixations of subjects reading normal text. The word-level effects are generally similar. Readers pause longer on longer words, on less frequent words, on words that introduce a new topic, and at ends of sentences. The results suggest that readers initiate thr processing of each word as soon as they encounter it rather than buffer words and delay processing. Also considered are two other reading-time paradigms, one in which words are cumulatively displayed on the screen and one in which each successive word is presented at the same location on the screen. Finally, we consider how the tendency to immediately process text might interact with other techniques for text presentation, such as the rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) condition, and we generate predictions about the nature and limits of the method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Eye Movements*
  • Fixation, Ocular
  • Form Perception
  • Humans
  • Memory
  • Models, Psychological
  • Reading*
  • Visual Fields