Functional Headings’ Effects on Selective Attention and Reading Processes



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Textual devices such as headings convey both content information and functional information. One type of headings is referred to as functional headings, since they provide functional information but not content information. Headings such as “Introduction” denote the function of a text section but not the content information of that section. The current study included three experiments that investigated the processing of functional information during reading. Experiment 1 investigated the effects of functional information in a timed reading situation. Experiments 2 and 3 looked at the effects of functional information when there was a contradiction in the text. Our results indicated that functional information promoted selective attention during timed reading (Experiment 1). Findings from our contradiction manipulation (Experiments 2 and 3) revealed that readers used functional headings to guide their structural reading process. Implications for cognitive processes during reading and pedagogical practices are described in the general discussion section.

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Psicología Educativa