A lot of us are addicted to technology and use it every day to get things done.
That’s a huge advantage when it comes to productivity.
But some of us may have an unhealthy obsession with reading speed and how fast we can read.
It’s an obsession that may actually be harming us in many ways, according to new research from a group of academics at the University of Queensland.
The study, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, found that people who read more quickly tended to have lower levels of self-esteem and less positive feelings about their performance in school.
“Our research found that the more time someone spent on reading, the more negatively they felt about themselves,” said the lead author, Professor Alan Fergus, from the School of Psychology at UQ.
“It also showed that the faster they read the more negative they felt, which could have implications for their well-being.”
Professor Fergus’ team looked at data from over 6,000 participants from a range of age groups, including young adults, university students and the elderly.
The researchers were able to identify which participants were reading more quickly and why.
They were able, for example, to track how much they read per minute on average.
They found that participants who were reading at the higher speed were more likely to be reading in an “attention deficit” mode, which is defined as reading at a slower pace than they should be.
“We found that higher speed reading is associated with more negative emotions and less confidence,” Professor Fergus said.
“People who read at high speed tended to be more depressed than those who read slower.”
The findings also showed how a slow reading speed can negatively impact on other areas of mental health.
They said that reading speed could be negatively impacting on people’s overall mental health, and that people’s feelings of self esteem could also be affected by reading speed.
Professor Ferguson said that while there were many benefits to reading speed, it should not be taken as a guarantee that you will be able to read faster.
“There’s some evidence that you may be less able to perform in the classroom because of a lack of speed,” he said.
“There’s also research that suggests reading speed is linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety and self-reported health issues.”
So, the longer you read, the less you can do in the school environment and the less confidence you have in your performance in the workplace.
“So, it’s not necessarily that you’ll have a higher reading speed if you’re doing it every single day, it might be that it’s a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Professor Gary McKeown, professor of psychology at the Queensland University of Technology, said it was important to remember that there are many benefits of reading speed that may not be directly related to how fast you read.
“One of the things that’s really important to realise is that reading is a skill that we learn,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane.
“When we’re reading, we’re using our brains and we’re working on the information that’s being given to us.”
What we’re really interested in is reading it fast, so that when we get bored we can go back to something else and we don’t have to go through all this extra work and be distracted.
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