Figure 115

The effects of word frequency on eye movements according to the E-Z Reader model. Adapted from Reichle et al. (1998).

generally needs to be fixated for longer than the word following a common word. This is precisely the spillover effect described earlier.

Why are words that are common, predictable, or short more likely than other words to be skipped or not fixated? According to the model, the main reason why the next word in a sentence is skipped is because its lexical access has been completed while the current word is still being fixated. This is most likely to happen for common, predictable, or short words, because lexical access is faster for these words than for others (assumptions 5 and 6).


The model specifies the major factors determining eye movements in reading. It shows that reading occurs on a word-by-word basis, and that parafoveal processing increases the efficiency of the reading process. The fact that the predictions of the model are generally in good agreement with eye-movement data suggests that its central assumptions are correct.

The E-Z Reader model de-emphasises the impact of higher-level cognitive processes on fixation times. For example, readers generally fixate for an unusually long time on the word "seems" when presented with the sentence, "Since Jay always jogs a mile seems like a short distance" (Frazier & Rayner, 1982; see Chapter 12). They cannot fit "seems" into the syntactic structure they have formed of the sentence, and so there is disruption. This disruption affects eye fixations, but is not explained by the model.

Reichle et al. (1998) identified another problem. According to the model, the motor programming system translates the signal to move to the next word into a saccade. However, it is not clear how this system produces saccades of the appropriate length.

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