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A new study shows that a sigh is not just a teenager’s way of showing you how BORED THEY ARE, MOM.


An annoying coworker gets credit for inspiring this study about visual environments and reading comprehension.

According to study author Motoyasu Honma, “A woman working next to me was a constant loud sigher, and I began my research by wondering why she sighed so much. As I looked into previous studies, I became interested in the fact that sighing has a negative impression on social communication, while it has a positive effect on cognitive function.”


Previous research has shown that our brains respond better to the visual environment of paper vs. electronics. This study found one possible reason why.

Both overactive brains and respiratory decline have been shown to mean bad news for comprehension. Guess what? In the study, participants reading on an electronic device had both increased brain activity and decreased sighs.

Honma continued, “Now that I think about it, [the annoying colleague] may have been subconsciously using sighs to improve her work efficiency.”

So, if you’re having trouble understanding something, try out some sighs.* Or maybe try paper.

*I was aware of every one of my sighs while I wrote this piece.

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