Why Talking to Yourself Might Be a Sign of Intelligence

Categorized as Wisdom Tagged ,


Talking to oneself, often regarded as a social faux pas or an indication of mental instability, has been scientifically proven to be a sign of higher intelligence. This article explores various scientific studies that have delved into the correlation between self-talk and intelligence, providing a comprehensive understanding of why talking to oneself might be a sign of intelligence.

The Power of Auditory Commands

A study conducted by scientists at Bangor University in the UK found that talking to oneself out loud could be a sign of higher intelligence. The study involved participants reading written instructions either out loud or silently. The researchers found that participants who read the instructions out loud were more concentrated and absorbed the information better. The study’s co-author, psychologist Dr. Paloma Mari-Beffa, explained that the benefits might come from simply hearing oneself, as auditory commands seem to be better controllers of behavior than written ones 1.

The Extension of Inner Silent Talk

Dr. Mari-Beffa sees speaking out loud as an extension of our inner silent talk, which has been shown to help us organize thoughts, emotions, and memories, as well as plan actions. She cites athletes, especially tennis players, who talk to themselves in stressful moments. They use spoken self-instructions to help focus their minds and motivate themselves to achieve specific goals. The researcher adds that talking out loud could actually be “a sign of high cognitive functioning” 1.

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The Impact of Positive or Negative Self-Talk on Cognitive Performance

A study published in Scientific Reports investigated the effects of positive and negative self-talk on functional connectivity associated with cognitive performance. The study found that positive self-talk and negative self-talk differently modulate brain states concerning cognitive performance. Self-respect may have both positive and negative effects due to enhanced executive functions and inaccurate confidence, respectively, whereas self-criticism may positively affect cognitive performance by inducing a less confident state that increases internal motivation and attention 2.

The Role of Self-Talk in Cognitive Performance

Another study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology found that talking to oneself in the third person during a task could improve cognitive performance. The researchers found that participants who used third-person self-talk were quicker to find hidden objects and made fewer errors during a spatial navigation task 3.

The Influence of Self-Talk on Task Performance

A study conducted at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan found that self-talk can influence task performance. The researchers found that instructing participants to say to themselves, “I will do my best!” before performing a task led to the participants performing better on the task. The researchers concluded that self-talk can be a useful tool for improving performance on tasks that require cognitive control 4.


In conclusion, scientific studies have shown that talking to oneself, far from being a sign of madness, can actually be a sign of higher intelligence. Self-talk can improve cognitive performance, help organize thoughts, emotions, and memories, and can be a useful tool for improving performance on tasks that require cognitive control. So, the next time you find yourself talking to yourself, remember – it might just be a sign of your intelligence!


  1. Big Think{:target=”_blank”} 2
  2. Scientific Reports{:target=”_blank”}
  3. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology{:target=”_blank”}
  4. Michigan State University and the University of Michigan{:target=”_blank”}