Effect of text-background color combinations on saccadic frequency

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Aldalil, Seifaldin
Gomez, Eileen
Spencer, Peter
Dueñas-Pincay, L. Daniela
Reppert, Dr. Thomas
Issue Date
Scholarship Sewanee 2022 , Readability , Complementary and non-complementary color combinations , EOG , Reading-associated saccades , Saccadic frequency , Accommodative response
The act of reading is accomplished by making a series of rapid eye movement, also known as saccades. During reading, a major contributor to visual perception is color contrast. An appropriate color combination is necessary to facilitate reading. Poor contrast of text may cause strain on the eyes. To test the effect of text color contrast on reading performance, we recorded the frequency and duration of saccades made by classmates as they read sample paragraphs. We hypothesized that saccade frequency would decrease in response to the complimentary color combinations. We paired text and background with complementary (e.g., blue and orange) and non-complementary colors (e.g., pink and red). We found that sample texts that had a combination of complementary colors led to higher saccade frequency compared to the complementary colors combinations. There was a difference, though not significant, between the average ASF in the complementary colors combinations group compared to the non-complementary colors combinations group across all 7 participants. There was no significant difference between the order group (complementary colors combinations displayed then non-complementary colors) and the reverse group (non-complementary colors combinations displayed then complementary colors) further confirming that the differences between the two groups were due to the contrast rather than the order of display. These data suggest that pairs of colors farther apart on the electromagnetic spectrum may elicit higher frequency of eye movements compared to colors closer to each other on the spectrum. The use of complementary color pairings may enhance readability for effective written communication.