Print exposure across the reading life span

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Leisure reading is a main contributor to print exposure, which is in turn related to individual differences in reading and language skills. The Author Recognition Test (ART) is a brief and objective measure of print exposure that has been used in reading research since the 1990s. Life span studies have reported contradicting results concerning age differences in print exposure, possibly due to the use of ART versions that differed regarding authors’ mean publication year. We investigated effects of participant age and authors’ mean publication year, literary level, and circulation frequency on author recognition probability between adolescence and old age (N = 339; age 13–77 years). An explanatory item response analysis showed that participant age and circulation frequency were positively related to recognition probability. Mean publication year was negatively related to recognition probability, indicating that recent authors who have been widely read for only a few years were less often recognized than classic authors who have been widely read for several decades. The relation between participant age and recognition probability was moderated by author variables. For classic authors, the recognition probability increased between adolescence and old age. By contrast, for recent authors, the recognition probability increased only between adolescence and middle age. Our results suggest that the mean publication year is a key author variable for the detection of print exposure differences between young, middle-aged and older adults. We discuss implications for author selection when updating the ART and for measuring print exposure in age-diverse samples.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReading and Writing
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1423-1441
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Author Recognition Test, Explanatory item response analysis, Life span, Print exposure, Reading
  • Educational science