Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 57–61 | Cite as

The eyes fixate the optimal viewing position of task-irrelevant words

  • Daniel Smilek
  • Grayden J. F. Solman
  • Peter Murawski
  • Jonathan S. A. Carriere
Brief Reports


We evaluated whether one’s eyes tend to fixate the optimal viewing position (OVP) of words even when the words are task irrelevant and should be ignored. Participants completed the standard Stroop task, in which they named the physical color of congruent and incongruent color words without regard to the meanings of the color words. We monitored the horizontal position of the first eye fixation that occurred after the onset of each color word to evaluate whether these fixations would be at the OVP, which is just to the left of word midline. The results showed that (1) the peak of the distribution of eye fixation positions was to the left of the midline of the color words, (2) the majority of the fixations landed on the left side of the color words, and (3) the average leftward displacement of the first fixation from word midline was greater for longer color words. These results suggest that the eyes tend to fixate the OVP of words even when those words are task irrelevant.


Word Reading Word Length Stroop Task Color Word Stroop Effect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Smilek
    • 1
  • Grayden J. F. Solman
    • 1
  • Peter Murawski
    • 1
  • Jonathan S. A. Carriere
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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