As you’re reading this blog post silently to yourself, do you hear an inner voice speaking the words in your head? A new paper published in Psychosis suggests that most people do hear an internal voice when they’re reading. But as this is the first ever investigation into the question, and it used an unconventional methodology, it’s fair to say the results are far from conclusive.
Ruvanee Vilhauer at New York University took advantage of questions about the phenomenon posted on Yahoo! Answers, the largest English language Q&A website in the world (where people post questions and members of the community chip in with their answers). She found 24 relevant questions posed between 2006 and 2014, and 136 answers in which people described their own experiences when reading.
Vilhauer analysed all the relevant content and looked for recurring themes and insights. Overall, the vast majority (82.5 per cent) of contributors said that they did hear an inner voice when reading to themselves, 10.6 per cent said they didn’t, and the status of the remaining contributors was unclear. Of those who said they heard an inner voice, 13 per cent said they did so only sometimes, with various factors tending to increase the likelihood of this happening, such as their interest in the text.
I hear one inner voice when reading to myself which seems to be my own. It is much clearer than my spoken voice as recorded and played back,