WebExp Demo Paradigm:   Self-Paced Reading


This experiment implements the self-paced reading (SPR) paradigm introduced by Just et al. (1982). This paradigm allows readers to use button presses to control the exposure duration for each word of a text they read. The latencies of the button presses depend on the properties of the words being read and correlate with the time course of the cognitive processes during reading and text comprehension. In their original study, Just et al. (1982) investigate three different variants of the SPR paradigm: cumulative window, moving window, and stationary window. Subsequent studies have shown that the moving-window paradigm most closely resembles natural reading, in the sense of replicating the results of eye-tracking data for reading. This paradigm is widely used in psycholinguistics, and Keller et al. (2009) were able to show that WebExp can be used to collect accurate response times in a self-paced reading experiment.

In a moving-window SPR experiment, a text is first displayed as a series of dashes on the screen, with each dash representing a character in the text. When the participant makes the first button press, this causes the first word to appear, replacing the dashes that correspond to that word. Subsequent button presses cause the previous word to be replaced by dashes while the current word is shown. Only one word is visible at any given time, thus creating the impression of a moving window of words on the screen.


The Experiment

This experiment demonstrates moving-window self-paced reading with region-by-region (rather than word-by-word) presentation. There is first a practice phase with three sentences and associated comprehension questions, and then the actual experiment, with eight sentences, again with comprehension questions interspersed.

Use the mouse button to move through the sentence, press Y or N to answer the comprehension questions.

WebExp Demonstrations 2008 The University of Edinburgh