Reading and Writing

, Volume 32, Issue 5, pp 1243–1256 | Cite as

The effects of emotional significance of foveal words on the parafoveal processing of N + 2 words in reading Chinese sentences

  • Ming YanEmail author
  • Werner Sommer


The emotional significance of stimuli has a strong effect on lexical processing across different reading paradigms. In the present study, we investigated whether foveal and parafoveal lexical processing is influenced by foveal emotional words (positive, negative, or neutral) during the reading of Chinese sentences. We tested word N + 2 preview effect by manipulating the visibility of the upcoming word, located two words away from the foveal word. Processing benefits due to valid parafoveal preview were found for all three valence classes of foveal words. Most interestingly, for negative as compared to both neutral and positive foveal target words, the parafoveal preview effect was reduced when preview duration had been long. These findings suggest that negative words are more likely to attract readers’ attention, narrowing the attentional spotlight to the fovea as affected information becomes activated during word processing. We discuss implications for the notion of attention attraction due to emotional content.


Eye movement Emotion Reading Chinese 



We thank Hua Shu and Wei Zhou for their assistance during data collection and Reinhold Kliegl for his comments on the manuscript. The datasets analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


This research was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft under Grant KL 955/18.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MacauTaipaMacau SAR
  2. 2.Institut für PsychologieHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany

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