Self Talk Means More Self Control

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Did you just cook a cake and want a second slice? How about just saying to spending your hard earned money on something you do not need? Just tell yourself no. Your self talk will give you self control. That's right a new study from the University of Toronto Scarborough is saying there is indeed a connection between inner dialogue and the ability to control impulsive behavior.

“Telling yourself, ‘Stick to that diet, stick to that diet’. . . that kind of self-talk actually contributes to self-control,” said Michael Inzlicht, who supervised the study. “When we don’t have the ability to engage in this kind of self-talk, we have less ability to control ourselves.”

“People had linked language and the shape of your thoughts,” Inzlicht said.

“This takes it a step further and says language also affects your ability to control yourself.” He further stated, “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,” says Alexa Tullett, PhD candidate and lead author on the study. “We wanted to find out whether talking to ourselves in this ‘inner voice’ actually helps.”

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That is just what Tullett and associate psychology professor Michael Inzlicht did. They performed a series of self-control tests on participants. In one test, participants performed a test on a computer and if they saw a particular symbol appear on the screen, they were told to press a button. If they saw a different symbol, they were told to refrain from pushing the button.

It was this test that measured self-control because there are more “press” than “don’t press” trials, making pressing the button an impulsive response.

“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,” says Tullett.

“This study shows that talking to ourselves in this ‘inner voice’ actually helps us exercise self-control and prevents us from making impulsive decisions.” This oculd help with certain conditions such as ADHD researcheres suggested. So go ahead, talk to yourself.

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