Macquarie University
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Reading online text content in the presence of visual distraction: Eye movements and comprehension

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posted on 2024-03-21, 21:58 authored by Haiting Lan

Most studies on skyscrapers (the vertical banner ads alongside website textual content) focus on their effectiveness as a marketing tool, such as influence on viewers’ attention allocation, ads memorization, and brand preference. However, few studies look into how the presence of skyscrapers as distractors impact text reading. This eye-tracking study investigates how skyscrapers affect readers’ reading behaviour and comprehension of website textual content in four increasingly distracting conditions (none, low, medium, and high): a) plain text only (“Blank”), b) plain text + a static graphic skyscraper (“Image”), c) plain text + a skyscraper with flashing text (“Flashing Text”), and d) plain text + an animated graphic skyscraper (“Video”). At global level, eye movements showed that high distracting condition (“Video”) and sometimes medium distracting condition (“Flashing Text”) altered readers’ reading behaviour significantly, which is evidenced by more and longer fixations and saccades. The results reflect the disruptive effect of increasingly distracting skyscrapers on text reading, as a higher attentional workload was induced by focusing on the primary reading task and suppressing the skyscrapers. Such a disruptive effect was particularly evident at the beginning of reading. At local level, the high distracting condition significantly impacts readers’ gaze duration (early lexical processing) but not total viewing time (late lexical processing). No significant differences were found in reading comprehension across the four conditions. Findings have important implications for online text reading in the presence of advertising distractors.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Literature Review -- Chapter 3. Methods -- Chapter 4. Results -- Chapter 5. General Discussion -- Chapter 6. Conclusions -- References

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Research

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jan-Louis Kruger

Additional Supervisor 1

Paul Sowman

Additional Supervisor 2

Sixin Liao


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




81 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 275915

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