You hear a voice in your head when you're reading, right?

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,

I couldn’t imagine not hearing a voice while reading. Sometimes the voice changes with character and setting.

I agree it’s hard to imagine not hearing a voice. When it comes to only hearing one voice it’s very much the case for reading news/research articles to myself. When it comes to characters in books or online stories I am not so sure. Been such a long time since I read a story.

For me, one of the eight voices I hear does the narrative when I read, I hear other voices for other characters.

I hear different voices when I read different things. I hear a voice as I’m typing this out.

Most people here have distinct voices in my head when they post. I will irrationally like or dislike people based on the voices I hear when I read their posts :smile_cat: There is a group of posters who sound exactly alike to me when I read them, which weirds me out a bit.

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@Rhubot you are a voicist and should be ashamed of yourself!


Yes, of course. Unfortunately, I also get little voices that are not mine commenting or analyzing. Sometimes beneficial when researching things, and I get voices that say stuff like :“this evidence will proved ‘blank’ to support your paper” or that will step in as voices as other characters etc.

However, most of the time I get “this is a waste of time,” “your stupid” etc… but there are ups and downs! :smile:

I need a definition of “voice.” When I read I hear what sounds like a “robotic” voice (not human). Thus if a non-human voice is hearing a voice when reading then I do hear a voice.
If not, then no.

I don’t actually “hear” an inner voice as I read or type. It’s more like inner thinking as I read or type…At least that is how it is for me. As I am typing/reading and thinking the words as I read/type I can clearly hear the TV and my husband doing dishes and making lots of noise…lol

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I used to get a new voice for every character, now I just have them for the duration of the book or story I am reading.

Could not imagine not hearing a voice when I read…

I think there a difference between actually hearing the inner voice and thinking the inner voice. But I am sure it is different for all of us. Do you agree?

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This exact thing happens with me

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Yes I ‘hear’ an inner voice while reading. Though ‘hearing’ is a bit of a stretch that shouldn’t be taken too far I’d say. It is quite unlike auditory hallucinations to me, and even more unlike ordinary hearing.

I can also choose not to hear this inner voice. By pushing myself to let my eyes run much, much quicker over the text. Faster than it would take for one to pronounce the words. I’d still be able to get some information out of it but my inner voice can’t keep up with it. Doesn’t work for difficult texts.

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I guess I hear a voice when I read, but I also visualize what I’m reading. The visualization is the stronger of the two.

I hear my own voice. But also other voices talk to me and that makes it impossible to focus for a long time. That is why I can’t read long posts. After 5-10 lines I have no energy left to fight off the other voices that break through my focus.

Usually you start by hearing it in your hear as you read if you are newby. DO NOT ATTEMPT COLLEGE CLASSES FOR A WHILE OR YOU MY LOSE YOUR MONEY WHEN YOU CANNOT KEEP UP ON THE READING. After a while, you can read along and be okay enough as long as you review at end of each paragraphs. Sometimes I just pronounce the words but it just is not going upstairs.

I always hear voices when I read but they’re never mine. Is that weird?

There was a teaching method many years ago: reading faster. I didn’t take it but when I talked to other people who did they said it’s about eliminating your inner voice when reading. Thanks for that you read faster and you still understand what you read. The downside is that if you stop practising the inner voice is coming back. So it is doable but the change is not permanent… I am able to not hear the voice of I concentrate very intensely on the text but I can manage it only for a very short period of time.

Same here lol. Sometimes I will falsely assume someone’s gender in an online community for months or even years, because my brain assigned them a male/female voice based on goodness knows what.