A psychophysical approach for investigating format readability online

Poster Presentation: Sunday, May 19, 2024, 2:45 – 6:45 pm, Banyan Breezeway
Session: Object Recognition: Reading

Kurtuluş Mert Küçük1 (), Rashid Md Mamunur2, Veronica Penkova3, Amy Giroux4, Nilsu Atılgan5, Shaun Wallace6, Sam Berlow7, Anna Kosovicheva8, Stephanie Day9, Ben D. Sawyer10; 1University of Central Florida, 2University of Toronto, 3University of Rhode Island

We introduce a scientific tool designed for online reading performance studies. Tool assesses optimum reading format for individuals by allowing experimenters to manipulate various text parameters. Developed using psychophysical research, the tool utilizes online testing via Pavlovia and Psychopy, enabling large-scale participant testing with reduced environmental noise and increased external validity. Our tool’s primary function is to assess reading performance across various typefaces, font parameters (e.g., weight, width, etc.), letter spacings by ranking comprehension scores and reading speed. The tool focuses on paragraph reading (approximately 150-word paragraphs), though it can also evaluate other forms of reading such as single word recognition and sentence reading. Stimuli are presented as .jpg images of texts with `modified fonts or spacings. Using images of texts instead of directly rendering using the browser, prevents potential incompatibility problems across different monitors while manipulating letter spacing and axes of variable fonts. We outline the methodology, emphasizing the tool's reliance on automatic randomization and counterbalancing, and the creation of stimulus sets. We provide a pilot study as an example to explain the configuration of tool’s settings and how counterbalancing functions. Example also outlines how behavioral performance measures such as comprehension scores, reading speed calculations (as words per minutes), and experimental conditions are registered in the data file. Overall, we provide an overview of the tool's design, functionality, and potential to expand the capabilities of online readability studies.