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Rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) is a method of displaying information (generally text or images) in which the text is displayed word-by-word in a fixed focal position. Aside from a basic reading aid, RSVP is being researched as a tool to increase individual reading rates. RSVP is also being utilized for research in the fields of visual impairment, dyslexia, perceptual and cognitive psychology. RSVP is available in software on multiple platforms and in many different languages worldwide.


The unique method used by RSVP allows for the reading of unlimited text in a limited position. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon have found that as many as 12 words per second are readable in controlled situations (720wpm).[1] Further research has shown that for shorter pieces of text, RSVP formats increased reading speed by 33% with no significant differences in comprehension or task load.[2]

Research done by the Wichita State University suggests that at 250 words per minute (WPM) comprehension was not significantly different from reading done using Palm Reader (EReader). Display at 650 WPM reduced comprehension by about 20% versus display at 250 WPM, from a score of 74.6 to 52.1, resulting in an effective 82% increase in words comprehended per minute, assuming the scoring is linear.[3] Studies have shown that reading rate is determined by size of text and spacing. RSVP allows users to obtain a maximum reading rate through the ability to adjust text size and eliminate space by displaying one item at a time.[4]

Web browsing on small-screen devices

Using RSVP-based browsers offers a space–time trade-offs for information presentation on small screen devices such as cell phones and PDAs. However to make this solution functional location and context related questions like ‘Where am I’, ‘Where can I usefully go’, ‘Where have I been’ and ‘How do I get back to X’, need to be addressed.[5]

Other uses:

RSVP can aid those with poor eyesight with its one text at a time display that enlarges and highlights the words.

RSVP and peripheral reading

Peripheral reading is vital to those suffering from central field loss, which is most commonly seen in the elderly. Factors which might limit one's peripheral reading rate include acuity, crowding, and eye movements. Many find difficulty making the correct eye movements for peripheral reading, but the dependence on eye movements can be minimized through the presentation format of RSVP.[6]


For those suffering from dyslexia, RSVP decreases confusion by helping the reader maintain the correct order of the sentence with its one word at a time format, thus leading to a better understanding of the material.

RSVP and adolescent sexual offenders

Limited existing previous research by Beech et al. suggests that images presented in RSVP have the potential to elicit a response from adolescent sexual offenders by measuring the effects of attentional blink. A stronger attentional blink is expected among adolescent sexual offenders after viewing a series of child related images. However, this hypothesis has not held up to subsequent research and remains an area of continued debate.[7]


  • Repetition blindness – When presented with a sequence of visual stimuli in rapid succession at the same location, readers often fail to detect words prominently repeated in a series, thus potentially missing the main ideas of the text.[citation needed]
  • Attentional blink – The mind focuses longer on certain words which may strike an emotional chord, which can put the reader behind in a sequence.[citation needed]
  • Temporal masking – Certain words when being read aloud in a series may evoke a striking sound or response that makes inaudible the mental articulation of the following word.[citation needed]

See also


External links

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