Talking to yourself is a sign of intelligence and self-control, research finds.
It is far from a sign of madness, as is sometimes claimed.
Whether we talk out loud or it is a silent inner voice, talking to yourself can help improve focus and boost brain power.
Talking to yourself has also been linked to wise reasoning, dealing more effectively with stressful situations and feeling more confident.
Talking to yourself has even been linked to the ability to find items more quickly.
For example, repeating “keys, keys, keys” might help you find them.
In one study of self-control, for example, people were given a set of written instructions to either read silently or out loud.
The results showed that reading the instructions out loud improved people’s control over a subsequent task.
It is thought that the benefit comes from hearing yourself.
Control impulsive behaviour
Other studies have shown that using our inner voice to talk to ourselves can also be beneficial.
Inner talk helps to organise our thoughts and control impulsive behaviour.
Dr Alexa Tullett is co-author of a study that found people who used their inner voice were better able to exert self-control.
“We give ourselves messages all the time with the intent of controlling ourselves — whether that’s telling ourselves to keep running when we’re tired, to stop eating even though we want one more slice of cake, or to refrain from blowing up on someone in an argument.
Dr Michael Inzlicht, study co-author, said:
“We found that people acted more impulsively when they couldn’t use their inner voice or talk themselves through the tasks.
Without being able to verbalize messages to themselves, they were not able to exercise the same amount of self control as when they could talk themselves through the process.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do