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Department of Psychology

Faculty and Staff Directory

Robin K. Morris

Title: Professor
Department: Psychology
College of Arts and Sciences
Phone: 803-777-3838
Office: Barnwell, 428
Resources: Curriculum Vitae [pdf]
Department of Psychology
Linguistics Program


Robin Morris received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1990 and accepted her current appointment at the University of South Carolina in the Experimental Program directly following her graduate training. Since that time she has established an eye movement research laboratory exploring the perceptual and cognitive processes involved in adult skilled reading behavior. This research laboratory has been funded by the National Science Foundation, as well as, various university research grants. Graduate students are actively engaged in all aspects of the research program. The two most recent publications listed below are the result of graduate student thesis projects.
Reading is a highly complex cognitive skill, and yet it is a skill that all citizens of a contemporary society are expected to master. It is a skill that involves complex perceptual processes, precise allocation of visual attention, fine motor control, and sophisticated language and memory processes. Thus, it provides a rich and varied field of inquiry for a cognitive psychologist. However, it is also an activity that does not involve many easily observable overt behaviors. By monitoring readers eye movements we have been able to pinpoint precise locations and sources of information that is critical to some aspect of processing and to describe the time course of that processing. By monitoring readers eye movements we are able to observe the moment-to-moment processing activities that make up the reading process.

Dr. Morris's interest in the use of eye movement measures to study cognitive processing is twofold:

The eye movement laboratory is actively engaged in the study of perceptual processing in reading and its relation to attention and eye movement control. In order to use eye movement measures to study cognitive processing it is crucial that we understand the relationship between when and where a reader directs their gaze and the cognitive processes associated with the reading process.

The second area of research concentration in the lab is word processing in reading. This research has focused primarily on defining contextual factors that influence word processing and to determine when those effects occur

Representative Publications

Williams, R.S. & Morris, R.K. (in press). An eye movement analysis of word familiarity and vocabulary acquisition in skilled reading. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, .
Bezuidenhout, A.L. & Morris, R.K. (in press). Implicature, relevance and pragmatic inference. Journal of Experimental Pragmatics, .
Folk, J.R. & Morris, R.K. (2003). Effects of Syntactic Category Assignment on Lexical Ambiguity Resolution in Reading: An Eye Movement Analysis. Memory & Cognition, 31, 87-99.
Poynor, D.V. & Morris, R.K. (2003). Inferred Goals in Narratives: Evidence from self-paced reading, recall and eye movements. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 29, 3-9.
Morris, R.K. & Williams, R.S. (2003). Bridging the gap between old and new: Eye movements and vocabulary acquisition in reading. In Hyona, J., Radach, R. & Deubel, H (Eds.), The Mind's Eyes: Cognitive and Applied Aspects of Eye Movements. Elsevier Science Publishers.
Traxler, M.J., Seely, R.E. & Morris, R.K. (2002). Processing subject and object relative clauses: Evidence from eye-movements. Journal of Memory and Language, 47, 69-90.
Morris, R.K. & Binder, K.S. (2001). What do Skilled Readers do with the Unselected Meaning of an Ambiguous Word?. In Gorfein, D.S (Eds.), n the Consequences of Meaning Selection: Perspectives on Ambiguity Resolution. APA Press.
Chaffin, R., Morris, R.K. & Seely, RE. (2001). Learning new word meanings from context: A study of eye movements. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 27, 225-235.
Morris, R.K. & Folk, J.R. (2000). Lexical ambiguity resolution in reading: the interaction of semantic, syntactic category and phonological information. In Kennedy, Pynte, Heller, & Radich (Eds.), Reading as a Perceptual Process. Elsevier Science Publishers.
Reeves, C., Schmauder, A.R. & Morris, R.K. (2000). Stress grouping improves performance on a serial list recall task. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 26, 1638-1654.
Schmauder, A.R., Morris, R.K., & Poynor, D.V. (2000). Lexical processing and text integration of function and content words: Evidence from priming and eye fixations. Memory & Cognition, 7, 1098-1108.
Traxler, M. J., Seely, R. E., Foss, D. J., Kaup, B., & Morris, R. K. (2000). Priming in Sentence Processing: Intralexical Spreading Activation, Schemas, and Situation Models. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 29, .
Morris, R.K. & Folk, J.R. (1998). Focus as a contextual priming mechanism. Memory & Cognition, 26, 1313-1322.
Binder, K.S., and Morris, R.K. (1995). Eye movements and lexical ambiguity resolution: Effects of prior encounter and discourse topic. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21, 1-11.
Folk, J.R., and Morris, R.K. (1995). Multiple lexical codes in reading: Evidence from eye movements, naming time, and oral reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21, .
Morris, R.K. (1994). Lexical and message level sentence context effects on fixation times in reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, 20, 92-103.
Rayner, K. & Morris, R.K. (1992). A model of eye guidance during reading: Evidence against semantic preprocessing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 18, 163-172.
Morris, R.K., Rayner, K., & Pollatsek, A. (1990). Eye movement guidance in reading: The role of parafoveal letter and space information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance, 16, 268-282.

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