The role of university students’ informal reasoning ability and disposition in their engagement and outcomes of online reading regarding a controversial issue: An eye tracking study

Miao-Hsuan Yen, Ying Tien Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


With an online reading context, this study aimed to investigate whether university students’ informal reasoning ability and disposition (indicated by counterargument construction) could reduce or even reverse “myside bias” in reading relevant webpages regarding a controversial issue. Also, the association of students’ online reading patterns with their progress in counterargument construction and changes in attitude extremity was examined in this study. The participants were sixty-four university students. They were asked to read eight relevant webpages freely (eye movement recorded) and to express their personal opinions about building nuclear power plants. These webpages were edited from various aspects regarding this controversial issue, with half of them presenting supporting and opposing information respectively. Before and after reading the webpages, the participants’ counterargument construction performance and attitude extremity toward the controversial issue were assessed. This study revealed that participants who could construct successful counterarguments in the pre-test tended to pay more attention to other-side than to myside webpages. For their counterparts, it was found that those who spent more time viewing other-side webpages either progressed in counterargument construction or neutralized their attitude in the post-test. With different methodology, this study also provides convergent evidences that myside bias was associated with attitude polarization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-24
Number of pages11
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 1



  • Controversial issues
  • Eye tracking
  • Informal reasoning
  • Myside bias
  • Online reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)

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