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Acta Psychol (Amst). 2010 Oct;135(2):252-6. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.07.008. Epub 2010 Aug 7.

The voice of self-control: blocking the inner voice increases impulsive responding.

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University of Toronto, Department of Psychology, Toronto, Ontario M1C 1A4, Canada.


Philosophers and psychologists have long-debated the notion that the voice in our heads might help us to control our actions. Evidence from a number of lines of research suggests that verbal resources help us to focus attention, providing reason to believe that the inner voice might aid self-control via this capacity. In this study we explored the link between verbal resources and self-control by occupying the inner voice and then assessing behavioral indices of self-control. Participants completed regular and switching versions of the Go/No-Go task while doing verbal or spatial secondary tasks. Compared with the spatial task, doing the verbal task resulted in more impulsive responding, as indicated by a greater tendency to make a 'Go' response, a pattern that was accentuated in the switching version of the Go/No-Go. Our results suggest that the inner voice helps us to exert self-control by enhancing our ability to restrain our impulses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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