Looks like text messages take longer to comprehend than send
Keeble and Hazel (2004 Perception 33 Supplement, 152) have assessed the extent to which punc- tuation can influence reading speed; but how does word construction itself influence the time taken to read prose? In particular, does the style of abbreviated text routinely composed by `texters' influence subsequent reading speed, and does lifetime exposure to texting affect time taken to read text passages? We recorded passage-reading speeds (N 32) for two different social groups of people: students (mean age: 21 years; range: 19 ^ 24 years) and academic staff (mean age: 45 years; range: 33 ^ 64 years). Students acquired their first mobile phone under the age of 20 (mean acquisition age: 14 years; range: 12 ^ 16 years), whilst academic staff acquired their first mobile phone over the age of 30 (mean acquisition age: 37 years; range: 30 ^ 54 years). The prediction was that the latter group would be less able to adjust to the language of abbreviated text messaging, and consequently require longer to read a passage composed in this manner. Reading speed was assessed for each of four short (250 word) passages of text composed either in Standard English, contractions, phonological approximations, or a mixture of approximation and contractions. Identical target words (N 45) were used in each passage but each passage comprised a different narrative, thanks to variation of target word order. Reading for meaning was ensured by means of post-reading comprehension test. Across the experiment, each passage served in each condition in a counterbalanced within-subjects design. Reading speeds were faster for unadulterated text than for all abbreviated passage types. Results demonstrate the deleterious effects of `txt' abbreviations on reading speed; however, the difficultly found in reading text does not appear to vary across the two populations sampled: no significant differences were found between academic staff and students.