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Department of Educational Sciences and Psychology

Article published in Learning and Instruction

Lepper, C., Stang-Rabrig, J. & McElvany, N. (2022). Gender differences in reading: Examining text-based interest in relation to text characteristics and reading comprehension. Learning and Instruction.


Reading motivation is a fundamental basis for reading behavior and performance. For learners, interest is an exceedingly important component of reading motivation. Prior research has shown that students’ text-based interest varies significantly by students’ gender. However, it is still unclear why one text elicits greater interest over another and whether text-based-interest is associated with reading comprehension among boys and girls. Therefore, in this study, we investigated whether different text characteristics, such as text genre, topic, and protagonists’ gender, are systematically related to girls and boys text-based interest and how interest and reading comprehension are colluded. We used data from a sample of 514 fourth-grade elementary school students (47,2 % female) to answer these questions. Based on a repeated within-subject design with fourteen narrative texts, we found boys’ interest to be higher in texts with male-attributed topics, male protagonists as well as more difficult text. In contrast, only text difficulty was relevant for girls' text interest. Furthermore, text-based interest and reading comprehension were significantly related, although stronger for boys than girls. The findings are discussed in terms of implications for research and educational practice. For practical purposes, for example, the article suggests that text characteristics such as difficulty should be given greater consideration when selecting appropriate reading materials.

Until October 19, the article is freely accessible at!