Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



This paper investigated the impact of causality on reading time by examining the contributions of forward antecedent and backward consequence connections. Undergraduate students read four narrative texts, sentence by sentence. Reading times for each sentence were regressed onto the number of antecedents connecting forward to a sentence and backward to prior sentences. Overall, forward antecedents and backward consequences explained unique variance in reading times, with increases in antecedents and consequences predicting decreases in reading time. However, causal consequences did not contribute unique variance to participants with higher literature knowledge. Further, the presence of forward antecedents significantly attenuated reading time differences in reading skill, and lower knowledge participants read sentences significantly faster than higher knowledge participants when forward antecedents were present. These results suggest that readers track both forward causal antecedents and backward causal consequences in online comprehension.


At the time of publication Stephen Briner was affiliated with University of Memphis.



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