Language & Communication

Uncovering Self Persuasion via Self-Talk


Despite a clear indication that human beings silently talk to themselves in the course of their daily lives, our field has lacked a socio-cognitive understanding of the conditions and effects of this form of inner speech. My research has shown that individuals commonly talk to themselves using the first-person pronoun. In addition, however, they also talk to themselves as if they were speaking to someone else, using the second-person pronoun you, which can be described using the metaphor of splitting or fragmentation of the self. Fragmented self-talk, defined by the use of the second-person you, questions and the imperative, arise in contexts requiring explicit self-control (after negative outcomes, when one experiences autonomy; Zell, …, & Albarracín, 2013). Therefore, in situations requiring conscious self-guidance, people refer to themselves as you and command themselves as if they were another person. Importantly, we have also shown that these fragmented modes of self-talk actually contribute to effective self-regulation (Dolcos et al., 2014).

Psychology Department, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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