Effects of word predictability on eye movements during Arabic reading

Maryam A. AlJassmi, Kayleigh L. Warrington, Victoria A. McGowan, Sarah J. White, Kevin B. Paterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Contextual predictability influences both the probability and duration of eye fixations on words when reading Latinate alphabetic scripts like English and German. However, it is unknown whether word predictability influences eye movements in reading similarly for Semitic languages like Arabic, which are alphabetic languages with very different visual and linguistic characteristics. Such knowledge is nevertheless important for establishing the generality of mechanisms of eye-movement control across different alphabetic writing systems. Accordingly, we investigated word predictability effects in Arabic in two eye-movement experiments. Both produced shorter fixation times for words with high compared to low predictability, consistent with previous findings. Predictability did not influence skipping probabilities for (four- to eight-letter) words of varying length and morphological complexity (Experiment 1). However, it did for short (three- to four-letter) words with simpler structures (Experiment 2). We suggest that word-skipping is reduced, and affected less by contextual predictability, in Arabic compared to Latinate alphabetic reading, because of specific orthographic and morphological characteristics of the Arabic script.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-24
Number of pages15
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Arabic
  • Eye movements during reading
  • Word predictability
  • Word-skipping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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