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This paper reports the results of a study on the impact of a type of side effect (SE) upon program comprehension. We applied a crossover design on different tests involving fragments of C code that include increment and decrement operators. Each test had an SE version and a side-effect-free counterpart. The variables measured in the treatments were the number of correct answers and the time spent in answering. The results show that the side-effect operators considered significantly reduce performance in comprehension-related tasks, providing empirical justification for the belief that side effects are harmful.