Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4372
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4380
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



We use eye tracking to investigate the attention readers pay to different textual features to determine their significance in the appreciation of prose fiction. Previous research examined attention allocation to lexical and punctuation variants, and the impact on reading dynamics for the remainder of the text, demonstrating that readers notice both kinds of variants but assign less value to the latter (Carrol, Conklin, Guy, & Scott, 2016). Here, in two experiments, we examine two conditions that may affect attention allocation: We investigate the influence of reader expertise (Experiment 1) and whether performance is influenced by a task-specific “spot-the-difference” effect (Experiment 2). We found that expertise plays little role in readers’ greater sensitivity to lexical rather than punctuation changes, and that the advantage for lexical changes persisted when the time interval between exposures is increased. These results confirm earlier findings: that small-scale features may not possess the creative significance predicated of them by critics and text-editors.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bates, D. , Maechler, M. , Bolker, B. , & Walker, S.
    (2015) Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4. Journal of Statistical Software, 67(1), 1–48. doi:  10.18637/jss.v067.i01
    https://doi.org/10.18637/jss.v067.i01 [Google Scholar]
  2. Bortolussi, M. , & Dixon, P.
    (1996) The effects of formal literary training on literary reception. Poetics, 23(6), 471–487. doi:  10.1016/0304‑422X(95)00014‑B
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(95)00014-B [Google Scholar]
  3. Carrol, G. , Conklin, K. , Guy, J. , & Scott, R.
    (2016) Processing punctuation and word changes in different editions of prose fiction. Scientific Study of Literature, 5(2), 200–228. doi:  10.1075/ssol.5.2.05con
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.5.2.05con [Google Scholar]
  4. Chou, Y. M. , Polansky, A. M. , & Mason, R. L.
    (1998) Transforming non-normal data to normality in statistical process control. Journal of Quality Technology, 30(2), 133–141. doi:  10.1080/00224065.1998.11979832
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00224065.1998.11979832 [Google Scholar]
  5. Conklin, K. , Pellicer-Sánchez, A. , & Carrol, G.
    (2018) An introduction to eye-tracking: A guide for applied linguistics research. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781108233279.002
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108233279.002 [Google Scholar]
  6. Crystal, D.
    (2015) Making a point: The pernickety story of English punctuation. London, United Kingdom: St Martin’s Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Dickens, C.
    (1846) The adventures of Oliver Twist. London, United Kingdom: Bradbury and Evans.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. (1867) The Charles Dickens edition. The adventures of Oliver Twist. London, United Kingdom: Chapman and Hall.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Filik, R. , & Barber, E.
    (2011) Inner speech during silent reading reflects the reader’s regional accent. PloS one, 6(10), e25782. 10.1371/journal.pone.0025782
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0025782 [Google Scholar]
  10. Goldman, S. R. , McCarthy, K. S. , & Burkett, C.
    (2015) Interpretative inferences in literature. In E. O’Brien , A. Cook & R. Lorch (Eds.), Inferences during reading. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781107279186.018
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107279186.018 [Google Scholar]
  11. Gómez-Jiménez, E. M.
    (2017) Unconventional patterns in the experimental poetry of E. E. Cummings: A stylistic approach to punctuation marks. Language and Literature, 26(3), 191–212. doi:  10.1177/0963947016686606
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0963947016686606 [Google Scholar]
  12. Guy, J. , Scott, R. , Conklin, K. , & Carrol, G.
    (2016) Challenges in editing late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century prose fiction: What is “editorial completeness”?English Literature in Transition, 59(4), 435–55. doi:https://doi.org/muse.jhu.edu/article/617933
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Graves, B. , & Frederiksen, C. H.
    (1991) Literary expertise in the description of fictional narrative. Poetics, 20(1), 1–26. doi:  10.1016/0304‑422X(91)90031‑J
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(91)90031-J [Google Scholar]
  14. Hakemulder, F. , & van Peer, W.
    (2016) Empirical stylistics. In V. Sotirova (Ed.), The Bloomsbury companion to stylistics. London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Halliday, M. A. K.
    (1967) Notes on transitivity and theme in English, part 2. Journal of Linguistics, 3(2), 199–244. doi:  10.1017/S0022226700016613
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022226700016613 [Google Scholar]
  16. Hill, R. , & Murray, W.
    (2000) Commas and spaces: Effects of punctuation on eye movements and sentence parsing. In A. Kennedy , R. Radach , D. Heller , & J. Pynte (Eds.), Reading as a perceptual process (pp.565–590). Oxford, United Kingdom: Elsevier. doi:  10.1016/B978‑008043642‑5/50027‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-008043642-5/50027-9 [Google Scholar]
  17. Hirotani, M. , Frazier, L. , & Rayner, K.
    (2006) Punctuation and intonation effects on clause and sentence wrap-up: Evidence from eye movements. Journal of Memory and Language, 54(3), 425–443. doi:  10.1016/j.jml.2005.12.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2005.12.001 [Google Scholar]
  18. Hothorn, T. , Bretz, F. , & Westfall, P.
    (2008) Simultaneous inference in general parametric models. Biometrical Journal, 50(3), 346–363. doi:  10.1002/bimj.200810425
    https://doi.org/10.1002/bimj.200810425 [Google Scholar]
  19. Hyönä, J. , & Niemi, P.
    (1990) Eye movements during repeated reading of a text. Acta Psychologica, 73(3), 259–280. doi:  10.1016/0001‑6918(90)90026‑C
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0001-6918(90)90026-C [Google Scholar]
  20. James, H.
    (1881) The portrait of a lady. London, United Kingdom: Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. (1908) The portrait of a lady (Vol.1). New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons. Vol.IIIofThe Novels and Tales of Henry James.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Kaakinen, J. K. , & Hyönä, J.
    (2010) Task effects on eye movements during reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36(6), 1561–1566. doi:  10.1037/a0020693
    https://doi.org/10.1037/a0020693 [Google Scholar]
  23. Lee, S. , Lee, M. , Park, H. , Chang, M.-S. , & Kwak, H. W.
    (2015) Effects of search intent on eye-movement patterns in a change detection task. Journal of Eye Movement Research, 8(2), 1–10. doi:  10.16910/jemr.8.2.5
    https://doi.org/10.16910/jemr.8.2.5 [Google Scholar]
  24. Levy, B. , Di Persio, R. , & Hollingshead, A.
    (1992) Fluent rereading: Repetition, automaticity, and discrepancy. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 18(5), 957–71. doi:  10.1037/0278‑7393.18.5.957
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.18.5.957 [Google Scholar]
  25. Levine, S. , & Horton, W. S.
    (2013) Using affective appraisal to help readers construct literary interpretations. Scientific Study of Literature, 3(1), 105–136. doi:  10.1075/ssol.3.1.10lev
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.3.1.10lev [Google Scholar]
  26. McCarthy, K. S.
    (2015) Reading beyond the lines: A critical review of cognitive approaches to literary interpretation and comprehension. Scientific Study of Literature, 5(1), 99–128. doi:  10.1075/ssol.5.1.05mcc
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.5.1.05mcc [Google Scholar]
  27. Norris, M.
    (2015) Between you and me: Confessions of a comma queen. London, United Kingdom: W.W. Norton.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Peskin, J.
    (1998) Constructing meaning when reading poetry. An expert-novice study. Cognition and Instruction, 16(3), 235–263. doi:  10.1207/s1532690xci1603_1
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532690xci1603_1 [Google Scholar]
  29. R Core Team
    R Core Team (2017) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Retrieved from: https://www.R-project.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Sanford, A. J. , & Filik, R.
    (2007) “They” as a gender-unspecified singular pronoun: Eye tracking reveals a processing cost. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 60(2), 171–178. 10.1080/17470210600973390
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17470210600973390 [Google Scholar]
  31. Schotter, E. , Bicknell, K. , Howard, I. , Levy, R. , & Rayner, K.
    (2014) Task effects reveal cognitive flexibility responding to frequency and predictability: Evidence from eye movements in reading and proofreading. Cognition, 131(1), 1–27. doi:  10.1016/j.cognition.2013.11.018
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2013.11.018 [Google Scholar]
  32. Sopčák, P.
    (2007) “Creation from nothing”: A foregrounding study of James Joyce’s drafts for Ulysses. Language and Literature, 16(2), 183–196. doi:  10.1177/0963947007075984
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0963947007075984 [Google Scholar]
  33. Tartakovsky, R.
    (2009) E. E. Cummings’ parentheses: Punctuation as poetic device. Style, 43(2), 215–47. doi: 10.5325/style.43.2.215
    https://doi.org/10.5325/style.43.2.215 [Google Scholar]
  34. Trueswell, J. C. , Tanenhaus, M. K. , & Garnsey, S. M.
    (1994) Semantic influences on parsing: Use of thematic role information in syntactic ambiguity resolution. Journal of memory and language, 33, 285–285. 10.1006/jmla.1994.1014
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.1994.1014 [Google Scholar]
  35. Vipond, D. , & Hunt, R. A.
    (1984) Point driven understanding: Pragmatic and cognitive dimensions of literary reading. Poetics, 13(3), 261–277. doi:  10.1016/0304‑422X(84)90005‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(84)90005-6 [Google Scholar]
  36. Vitu, F.
    (1991) The influence of parafoveal preprocessing and linguistic context on the optimal landing position effect. Perception & Psychophysics, 50(1), 58–75. 10.3758/BF03212205
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03212205 [Google Scholar]
  37. Ward, P. , & Sturt, P.
    (2007) Linguistic focus and memory: An eye movement study. Memory & Cognition, 35(1), 73–86. doi:  10.3758/BF03195944
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03195944 [Google Scholar]
  38. Zeitz, C. M.
    (1994) Expert-novice differences in memory, abstraction, and reasoning in the domain of literature. Cognition and Instruction, 12(4), 277–312. doi:  10.1207/s1532690xci1204_1
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532690xci1204_1 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error