The Experience of Reading

Alan Tonnies Moore and Eric Schwitzgebel

Consciousness and Cognition, 62 (2018), 57-68

What do people consciously experience when they read? There has been almost no rigorous research on this question, and opinions diverge radically among both philosophers and psychologists. We describe three studies of the phenomenology of reading and its relationship to memory of textual detail and general cognitive abilities. We find three main results. First, there is substantial variability in reports about reading experience, both within and between participants. Second, reported reading experience varies with passage type: passages with dialogue prompted increased reports of inner speech, while passages with vivid visual detail prompted increased reports of visual imagery. Third, reports of visual imagery experiences, inner speech experiences, and experiences of conscious visual perception of the words on the page were at best weakly related to general cognitive abilities and memory of visual and auditory details.

Official published version:

The Experience of Reading

Final manuscript version:

By following either of the links below, you are requesting a copy for personal use only, in accord with "fair use" laws.

Click here to view this document as a PDF file: The Experience of Reading (pdf, March 28, 2018)

Or here to view this document as an HTM file: The Experience of Reading (html, March 8, 2018).

Supplementary Online Material

Raw data:

Or email eschwitz at domain: for a copy of this paper and/or data tables.

Return to Eric Schwitzgebel's homepage.