Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Do you speak alone? 3 reasons to continue to do so

speak alone

It is likely that you have ever caught yourself speaking alone. Maybe you were asking yourself a question, looking for a solution for a problem that worried you or were just “observing” a mental note not to forget a pending task. And if you surprised yourself speaking alone more than once, maybe you wondered if you were going crazy.

Unfortunately, in the popular imagination there is still the idea that speaking alone is a sign of impending madness, but the truth is that it is not! Albert Einstein, for example, spoke often alone. It is said that he often repeated his words softly.

In fact, talking to ourselves not only helps us to combat loneliness, but also makes us more intelligent because it allows us to clarify our thoughts helping us make sense of our ideas and allows us to confirm our decisions. Just a warning: the monologue must respect you.

1. Speaking alone makes sure that the brain works more efficiently

Psychologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have shown to a group of 20 volunteers pictures of different objects and asked them to find one. Half of the people had to carry out this task in silence, the other half had to repeat loud the name of the object they were looking for.

Interestingly, those who were talking loudly during the test found the objects faster, only in 0.1 seconds, while the others needed between 1.2 and 2 seconds, a significant difference.

These researchers believe that language is not simply a means of communication, when we direct it to ourselves not only helps us to think more clearly, but also amplifies our perception and enhances memory.

2. Speaking alone helps you face the challenges

Speaking alone out loud not only helps you organize your thoughts, but also allows you to motivate yourself. Psychologists at the University of Illinois asked a group of people to motivate themselves and solve some anagrams, some people had to do it only in their mind while the others had to speak alone loudly.

These researchers found that by speaking alone loud was more motivating, they also found that it was better if the speech was used in the second person. Participants who are motivated addressing themselves the “you” instead of “I” solved more anagrams and declared to feel more satisfied with their performance. In practice, these people did not say to themselves: “I can do it” but “you can do it”.

According to these psychologists, using the second person activates the memories associated with the support we have received in other situations where we felt demotivated. In this way we feel better and gain greater security and confidence.

3. Speaking to yourself in the third person relieves stress

Of course, talking for the sake of it is not always useful, it's important to do it the “right” way. In this regard, psychologists at the University of Michigan have found that speaking to ourself in the third person also helps us relieve stress.

These researchers generated stress and anxiety among participants by telling them that they had to prepare a speech, they would find themselves in front of some specialists that would consider what they were qualified for the job they wanted. They were given five minutes to get prepared and were explained that they could not use their notes.

However, half of the participants had to speak to themselves in the first person when preparing for the speech, asking things like: “why am I so nervous?”. The other half could speak to themselves but in the third person, asking questions such as: “Why are you so nervous?”.

Following each participant had to indicate how he felt nervous after the speech and how he thought he was gone. The results left no dubt: those who talked to themselves in the third person reported to feel less nervous and have less shame, as well as having less ruminatives thoughts. What's more, experts confirmed that the speeches of these people were better and more convincing.

The secret lies in the fact that when we think of ourselves as if we were someone else, we assume a psychological distance from the problem, which helps us to control our emotions, open our mind and consider other perspectives from a more objective position.

So, now you know, talking to yourself may even be beneficial.

Kross, E. et. Al. (2014) Self-talk as a regulatory mechanism: How you do it matters. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; 106(2): 304-324.
Dolcos & Albarracín (2014) The inner speech of behavioral regulation: Intentions and task performance strengthen when you talk to yourself as a You. European Journal of Social Psychology; 44(6): 636-642.
Lupyan, G. & Swingley, D. (2011) Self-directed speech affects visual search performance. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology; 65(6): 1068-1085.


Keep feeding your neurons

Do you speak alone? 3 reasons to continue to do so
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Jennifer Delgado Suárez

Psicologist by profession and passion, dedicated to to string words together. Discover my Books


Psychology as you never heard about...

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