Why is it so hard to resist reading subtitles on tv even if we can understand what they are saying?


I myself find it really hard to not read them and pay attention to the screen even when I’m watching something in my native language and have no issue hearing the dialog.

In: Other


Have you seen the things where you have to say what color you see but it will be the word “red” written in blue font. It is really difficult fighting the urge to read the word and say the color instead. I think it is probably the same concept, our minds are used to reading everything we see.

Because evolution has spent hundreds of thousands of years instilling that humans and other primates should pay attention to flashing things in their peripheral vision.


Because eventually some parts of the dialog will be inaudible, so if you don’t read everything you will end up going back for what you missed from time to time.

And because sometimes knowing what is being said will let you interpret ambiguous sounds better. Like Yanny vs. Laurel https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/16/611701171/yanny-or-laurel-why-people-hear-different-things-in-that-viral-clip




Someone else described this as effected by endogenous attention but I’d also like to say for most adults today reading is basically autonomic. It’s something that took a lot of effort when you were young but try to not read any word put in front of your face. Short of averting or closing your eyes I bet you can’t. Same reason you can’t look at a cup without understanding it’s a cup is the same reason you can’t see the word cup without realizing what it says.

For me, it’s just to really confirm what was said. Even though English is my only language, I still read because I can still mishear things. Maybe because the TV character was speaking too fast or has an accent, there’s no doubting what was said if you can just read it and understand it instantly.

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