Skipping syntactically illegal the previews: The role of predictability

Abbott, M. J., Angele, B., Ahn, D., & Rayner, K. (2015). Skipping syntactically illegal the previews: The role of predictability. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 41(6), 1703-1714. doi:10.1037/xlm0000142.
Readers tend to skip words, particularly when they are short, frequent, or predictable. Angele and Rayner (2013) recently reported that readers are often unable to detect syntactic anomalies in parafoveal vision. In the present study, we manipulated target word predictability to assess whether contextual constraint modulates the-skipping behavior. The results provide further evidence that readers frequently skip the article the when infelicitous in context. Readers skipped predictable words more often than unpredictable words, even when the, which was syntactically illegal and unpredictable from the prior context, was presented as a parafoveal preview. The results of the experiment were simulated using E-Z Reader 10 by assuming that cloze probability can be dissociated from parafoveal visual input. It appears that when a short word is predictable in context, a decision to skip it can be made even if the information available parafoveally conflicts both visually and syntactically with those predictions.
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