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Readers text skimming behavior changes with variation in working memory capacity

  • Author(s): Sanchez, Christopher;
  • Hildenbrand, Lena;
  • Powell, Courtney
  • et al.
Abstract

Text skimming is a common reading behavior that occurs when readers scan text at a faster than normal rate to attempt to form understanding when not able to read at normal speed. Research has suggested that reading time varies across a skimmed text, guided by attention and comprehension goals. However, do individual differences in the ability to manage attention affect skimming? Are those better at managing attention (i.e., high working memory) also better at managing text skimming? Two experiments were conducted where participants who varied in WMC were asked to skim an unfamiliar expository text, both on a computer, and while being eyetracked. In both experiments, while participants did spend more time reading earlier portions of the text, this did interact with WMC. Those higher in WMC balanced their reading efforts more equally across the entire text, suggesting that text skimming behavior is sensitive to differences in WMC.

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