The effect of contextual plausibility on word skipping during reading

Aaron Veldre*, Erik D. Reichle, Roslyn Wong, Sally Andrews

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Recent eye-movement evidence suggests readers are more likely to skip a high-frequency word than a low-frequency word independently of the semantic or syntactic acceptability of the word in the sentence. This has been interpreted as strong support for a serial processing mechanism in which the decision to skip a word is based on the completion of a preliminary stage of lexical processing prior to any assessment of contextual fit. The present large-scale study was designed to reconcile these findings with the plausibility preview effect: higher skipping and reduced first-pass reading times for words that are previewed by contextually plausible, compared to implausible, sentence continuations that are unrelated to the target word. Participants' eye movements were recorded as they read sentences containing a short (3–4 letters) or long (6 letters) target word. The boundary paradigm was used to present parafoveal previews which were either higher or lower frequency than the target, and either plausible or implausible in the sentence context. The results revealed strong, independent effects of all three factors on target skipping and early measures of target fixation duration, while frequency and plausibility interacted on later measures of target fixation duration. Simulations using the E-Z Reader model of eye-movement control in reading demonstrated that plausibility effects on skipping are potentially consistent with the assumption that higher-level contextual information only affects post-lexical integration processes. However, no current model of eye movements in reading provides an explicit account of the information or processes that allow readers to rapidly detect an integration failure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104184
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • reading
  • eye movements
  • word skipping
  • plausibility effects
  • parafoveal processing
  • E-Z Reader


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