A new study by Harvard Business School has found that people are more likely to skip out on reading books than to read at all, even if it’s the recommended reading time of the hour.
According to the study, conducted by the Harvard Business Review, reading time is not the sole determinant of reading speed.
It also looked at the effect of the reading time on cognitive performance.
“If we want to learn to read better, we should spend more time in front of the screen, where we can take in more information and then learn to engage with it more deeply,” said Jochen Moltke, the study’s lead author.
The research, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, looked at data from the U.S. General Social Survey (GSS), which asked participants about their reading habits, and found that those who said they read a lot (5 to 10 books a week) were more likely than those who did not read a bit (0 to 1 books a month) to skip reading altogether.
However, when the researchers also looked into whether skipping a book would affect performance on tests like the SAT or ACT, they found no evidence that skipping books would improve test scores.
“Even though reading time was not the main factor that determined reading speed, we did find that people who skipped a lot were more than twice as likely to fail the test as those who skipped just a little bit,” Moltka said.
“However, it appears that skipping a little more time to read a book doesn’t seem to improve your ability to do well on the test.
If you’re not reading at the right time, you can be at an increased risk of failing the test.”
The study suggests that the effect on cognitive ability is strongest for people who skip at least 10 books in a week.
“The reason why reading is such a powerful predictor of performance is that reading time has a big effect on our attention span, which is a measure of how long we can hold a thought in our head,” Moleke said.
“The more time we spend in front, the more information we can absorb and remember.”
While reading time can play a role in how much time we get to read, Moltko said that more research is needed on the topic.
“We don’t know how much more we should read, and we don’t understand the mechanisms behind why skipping a few minutes or even seconds seems to increase our reading speed,” he said.
While the findings suggest that skipping more books can boost performance, Molton said that reading comprehension is not a particularly high priority in the study.
“When it comes to reading comprehension, most people don’t think much about the idea of skipping a single book, and if they did, they wouldn’t read a single one,” he added.
“But if you’re just reading something at a time, like I was, it’s easy to just skim the bottom of the page, and the results just aren’t that different.”
This study is a reminder that you should not just focus on what you read in a certain book or in a specific time period,” he concluded.