2014 William James Fellow Award
University of California, San Diego
Having developed techniques and theoretical analyses that revolutionized our understanding of how people read, Keith Rayner is the world leader in the study of skilled reading. He has been the driving force behind the most important developments in the study of the perceptual basis of reading during the past two decades and a central figure in the online psycholinguistic study of reading. His contributions have had a major impact on practice by professional reading educators, clinicians interested in reading disorders, and graphical designers seeking easy-to-read fonts.
More than any other person, Rayner is responsible for rejuvenating research in reading by making detailed measurements of when and where the eyes move while reading a text. From the beginning of his career, Rayner has used such data to gain insight into all aspects of the reading process. He has studied how much information the eyes take in during a single glance, how the phonology and spelling pattern of words affects their recognition, how word frequency and predictability influence reading, and how a reader’s knowledge and use of grammatical structure affect comprehension during reading. He has studied reading in different scripts and type fonts, and reading by deaf individuals, older adults, and individuals with autism spectrum disorder. Together with his colleagues, he has used this data to guide the development of a highly successful quantitative process model of reading, the E-Z Reader model.
Rayner is a prolific and influential scientist, appearing on the Web of Science’s list of most frequently cited psychologists. He has received many academic honors, including the Bartlett Lectureship and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Experimental Psychology Society. He has mentored dozens of graduate and postdoctoral students, a great many of whom have gone on to have their own distinguished academic careers.