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The impact of hyperlinks, skim reading and perceived importance when reading on the web

The impact of hyperlinks, skim reading and perceived importance when reading on the web
The impact of hyperlinks, skim reading and perceived importance when reading on the web
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).
1932-6203
1
Jayes, Lewis
09a32c04-4633-4963-aff4-0cf3cc20eca3
Fitzsimmons, Gemma
ac6b7c69-8992-44f1-92ca-05aa22e75129
Weal, Mark
e8fd30a6-c060-41c5-b388-ca52c81032a4
Kaakinen, J.K.
6336a820-8f38-40bd-8a55-cdfa18082f4c
Drieghe, Denis
dfe41922-1cea-47f4-904b-26d5c9fe85ce
Jayes, Lewis
09a32c04-4633-4963-aff4-0cf3cc20eca3
Fitzsimmons, Gemma
ac6b7c69-8992-44f1-92ca-05aa22e75129
Weal, Mark
e8fd30a6-c060-41c5-b388-ca52c81032a4
Kaakinen, J.K.
6336a820-8f38-40bd-8a55-cdfa18082f4c
Drieghe, Denis
dfe41922-1cea-47f4-904b-26d5c9fe85ce

Jayes, Lewis, Fitzsimmons, Gemma, Weal, Mark, Kaakinen, J.K. and Drieghe, Denis (2022) The impact of hyperlinks, skim reading and perceived importance when reading on the web. PLoS ONE, 17 (2), 1, [e0263669]. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0263669).

Record type: Article

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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Submitted date: 8 July 2021
Accepted/In Press date: 25 January 2022
Published date: 9 February 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 454266
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/454266
ISSN: 1932-6203
PURE UUID: 120be4ad-62ad-49a2-9e1c-56be4a1dd387
ORCID for Gemma Fitzsimmons: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4519-0499
ORCID for Mark Weal: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6251-8786
ORCID for Denis Drieghe: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-9630-8410

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Date deposited: 04 Feb 2022 17:35
Last modified: 11 Feb 2022 02:39

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Contributors

Author: Lewis Jayes
Author: Gemma Fitzsimmons ORCID iD
Author: Mark Weal ORCID iD
Author: J.K. Kaakinen
Author: Denis Drieghe ORCID iD

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