Dissociating spatial and letter-based word length effects observed in readers' eye movement patterns
Hautala, J., Hyönä, J., & Aro, M. (2011). Dissociating spatial and letter-based word length effects observed in readers' eye movement patterns. Vision Research, 51 (15), 1719-1727. doi:10.1016/j.visres.2011.05.015
Published inVision Research
© 2011 Elsevier Ltd. This is an electronic final draft version of an article whose final and defenitive form has been published in Vision Research by Elsevier.
In previous eye movement research on word length effects, spatial width has been confounded with the number of letters. McDonald (2006) unconfounded these factors by rendering all words in sentences in constant spatial width. In the present study, the Arial font with proportional letter spacing was used for varying the number of letters while equating for spatial width, while the Courier font with monospaced letter spacing was used to measure the contribution of spatial width to the observed word length effect. Number of letters in words affected single fixation duration on target words, whereas words’ spatial width determined fixation locations in words and the probability of skipping a word. The results support the existence of distinct subsystems for deciding where and when to move eyes in text (Rayner & McConkie, 1976). The number-of-letters effect in fixation duration may be explained by visual acuity, visual crowding, and/or serial letter processing.