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The Impact of Hyperlinks, Skim Reading and Perceived Importance when Reading on the Web, 2009-2019

The Impact of Hyperlinks, Skim Reading and Perceived Importance when Reading on the Web, 2009-2019
The Impact of Hyperlinks, Skim Reading and Perceived Importance when Reading on the Web, 2009-2019
It has previously been shown that readers spend a great deal of time skim reading on the Web and that this type of reading can affect comprehension of text. Across two experiments, we examine how hyperlinks influence perceived importance of sentences and how perceived importance in turn affects reading behaviour. In Experiment 1, participants rated the importance of sentences across passages of Wikipedia text, while in Experiment 2, participants read these passages, with the task being either reading for comprehension or skim reading. Reading times of sentences were analysed in relation to the type of task and the importance ratings from Experiment 1. Results from Experiment 1 show readers rated sentences without hyperlinks as being of less importance than sentences that did feature hyperlinks, and this effect is larger when sentences are lower on the page. It was also found that short sentences with more links were rated as more important, but only when they were presented at the top of the page. Long sentences with more links were rated as more important regardless of their position on the page. In Experiment 2, higher importance scores resulted in longer sentence reading times. When skim reading, however, importance ratings had a lesser impact on reading behaviour than when reading for comprehension. We suggest readers are less able to establish the importance of a sentence when skim reading, even though importance could have been assessed by information that would be fairly easy to extract (i.e. presence of hyperlinks, length of sentences, and position on the screen).
UK Data Archive
Fitzsimmons, Gemma
ac6b7c69-8992-44f1-92ca-05aa22e75129
Fitzsimmons, Gemma
ac6b7c69-8992-44f1-92ca-05aa22e75129

Fitzsimmons, Gemma (2021) The Impact of Hyperlinks, Skim Reading and Perceived Importance when Reading on the Web, 2009-2019. UK Data Archive doi:10.5255/UKDA-SN-855044 [Dataset]

Record type: Dataset

Abstract

It has previously been shown that readers spend a great deal of time skim reading on the Web and that this type of reading can affect comprehension of text. Across two experiments, we examine how hyperlinks influence perceived importance of sentences and how perceived importance in turn affects reading behaviour. In Experiment 1, participants rated the importance of sentences across passages of Wikipedia text, while in Experiment 2, participants read these passages, with the task being either reading for comprehension or skim reading. Reading times of sentences were analysed in relation to the type of task and the importance ratings from Experiment 1. Results from Experiment 1 show readers rated sentences without hyperlinks as being of less importance than sentences that did feature hyperlinks, and this effect is larger when sentences are lower on the page. It was also found that short sentences with more links were rated as more important, but only when they were presented at the top of the page. Long sentences with more links were rated as more important regardless of their position on the page. In Experiment 2, higher importance scores resulted in longer sentence reading times. When skim reading, however, importance ratings had a lesser impact on reading behaviour than when reading for comprehension. We suggest readers are less able to establish the importance of a sentence when skim reading, even though importance could have been assessed by information that would be fairly easy to extract (i.e. presence of hyperlinks, length of sentences, and position on the screen).

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More information

Published date: 8 July 2021

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 451762
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/451762
PURE UUID: accc7d72-b388-44e8-900b-af426a93fb8f
ORCID for Gemma Fitzsimmons: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4519-0499

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 26 Oct 2021 16:31
Last modified: 16 Dec 2021 02:27

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Contributors

Creator: Gemma Fitzsimmons ORCID iD

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