Study: Our 'inner Voice' Gives Good Advice

TORONTO, Sept. 21 (UPI) — Talking to yourself could be a good thing, particularly when it comes to exercising self-control, Canadian researchers say.

Research at the University of Toronto Scarborough suggests using your inner voice plays an important role in controlling impulsive behavior.


“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,” Alexa Tullett, Ph.D. candidate and lead author on the study, said.

“We wanted to find out whether talking to ourselves in this ‘inner voice’ actually helps.”

Participants in a study were told to push or not push a button depending on a symbol flashed on a screen. Since there were more “press” than “don’t press” trials, button-pushing became an impulsive response.

In order to block their “inner voice,” participants were told to repeat one word over and over as they performed the test. This prevented them from talking to themselves while taking the test.

“Through a series of tests, we found that people acted more impulsively when they couldn’t use their inner voice or talk themselves through the tasks,” the researchers said. “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.”

“It’s always been known that people have internal dialogues with themselves, but until now, we’ve never known what an important function they serve,” Tullett said. “This study shows that talking to ourselves in this ‘inner voice’ actually helps us exercise self-control and prevents us from making impulsive decisions.”

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