CarPrice versus CarpRice: Word Boundary Ambiguity Influences Saccade Target Selection During the Reading of Chinese Sentences

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As a contribution to a theoretical debate about the degree of high-level influences on saccade targeting during sentence reading, we investigated eye movements during the reading of structurally ambiguous Chinese character strings and examined whether parafoveal word segmentation could influence saccade-target selection. As expected, ambiguous strings took longer to process. More critically there were theoretically relevant interactions between ambiguity and launch site when first-fixation location and saccade amplitude served as dependent variables: Ambiguous strings in the parafovea triggered longer saccades and more rightward fixations for close launch sites than unambiguous ones; the reverse result was obtained for far launch sites. These crossover interactions indicate that parafoveal word segmentation influences saccade generation in Chinese and provide support of the hypothesis that high-level information can be involved in the decision about where to fixate next.

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