The Effect of High- and Low-Frequency Previews and Sentential Fit on Word Skipping During Reading

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In a previous gaze-contingent boundary experiment, Angele and Rayner (2013) found that readers are likely to skip a word that appears to be the definite article the even when syntactic constraints do not allow for articles to occur in that position. In the present study, we investigated whether the word frequency of the preview of a 3-letter target word influences a reader's decision to fixate or skip that word. We found that the word frequency rather than the felicitousness (syntactic fit) of the preview affected how often the upcoming word was skipped. These results indicate that visual information about the upcoming word trumps information from the sentence context when it comes to making a skipping decision. Skipping parafoveal instances of the therefore may simply be an extreme case of skipping high-frequency words.

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