Inner Speech

A Window into Consciousness

Alain Morin & Bob Uttl

inner speech_s

Cite this article as: Morin, A. & Uttl, B. (2013). Inner speech: A window into consciousness. Retrieved month, day, year, from  doi: 10.12744/tnpt.14.04.2013.01

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Inner speech represents a running commentary on any significant aspects of ourselves and our world. As such it “exteriorizes” consciousness, so to speak. While self-talk has been studied in specific situations such as self-regulation, and during distinct mental states like anxiety, very little is known about naturally occurring inner speech in everyday life. Morin and colleagues (Morin et al., 2011; Uttl et al., 2012) have probed inner speech frequency and content in over 500 participants using self-report and thought sampling measures. Their findings show that inner speech is very often about the self and that a large portion is concerned with what others think of the self (e.g., self-evaluating, others’ opinion of the self, appearance, performance), as well as individuals and activities relevant to the self. In addition, self-reported inner speech frequently serves self-regulatory (planning), problem-solving, and mnemonic functions. In a thought sampling study using cell phones (Uttl et al., 2012), participants indicated talking to themselves over 50% of all prompt occasions; this is much higher than the 25% previously reported in another study (Heavey & Hurlburt, 2008). These results are discussed in terms of fit with the existing inner speech literature and key novelties are underlined.


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