Reading in Distracting Settings: The Role of Inhibition and Setting Goals in the Comprehension of Digital Academic Texts




reading comprehension, distracting contexts, higher education, goal setting, inhibition, digital academic texts


Written texts are the main tool for accessing disciplinary knowledge in higher education. Nowadays, reading tasks are frequently developed by means of digital texts, which implies a reading environment susceptible to distraction, requiring a reader capable of controlling key cognitive processes in order to adequately understand the content. This article reports the results of an experimental pilot study which aimed to analyze the effect of two executive functions: The ability to inhibit in the face of a distracting stimulus and the ability to set goals, on the comprehension of digital academic texts. For this purpose, the technique of recording eye movements during reading was used. Thirty-nine Psychology students attending the first and second years at a Chilean university participated in the test. The results revealed that, in contexts of distraction, setting goals based on relevant instructions improves the comprehension of digital academic texts. Findings suggest that in these reading situations clear instructions are associated with a focused and efficient processing of the text, which in turn reduces the negative effect on comprehension from elements outside the task.

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Author Biographies

Pamela Ramírez-Peña, Universidad de Concepción

Ph. D. Psychology. Scholarly Assistant, Department of Spanish/School of Education, Universidad de Concepción, Chile.

Claudia Paz Pérez-Salas, Universidad de Concepción

Profesora asociada, Departamento de Psicología, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile.

Bernardo Riffo-Ocares, Universidad de Concepción, Chile

Profesor titular, Departamento de Español, Universidad de Concepción, Concepción, Chile.

Raquel Cerdán Otero, Universidad de Valencia, España

Profesora titular, ERI Lectura (Estructura de Investigación en Lectura), Facultad de Psicología. Universidad de Valencia, Valencia, España.


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How to Cite

Ramírez-Peña, P., Pérez-Salas, . C. P., Riffo-Ocares, . B., & Cerdán Otero, . R. (2022). Reading in Distracting Settings: The Role of Inhibition and Setting Goals in the Comprehension of Digital Academic Texts. Íkala, Revista De Lenguaje Y Cultura, 27(1), 66–83.



Empirical Studies