On October 8, 2013 Malala Yousafzai appeared on the Daily Show to talk about her harrowing experience surviving the Taliban’s attempt to assassinate her. At one point during the interview she described how she reacted when she discovered that the Taliban were planning to kill her. “I used to think that the Tali[ban] would come and he would just kill me,” she told to Stewart. “But then I said, if he comes, what would you do Malala? Then I would reply to myself, Malala just take a shoe and hit him…”
Malala’s interview provides a window into the at times curious ways that we reflect on our lives. Although we all have an inner monologue that we engage in from time to time, an inner voice that guides our moment-to-moment reflections, people often report referring to themselves in strikingly different ways when they introspect. Whereas people typically use 1st person singular pronouns (e.g., I, me, my) to refer to themselves during introspection, they at times also use their own name and other non-1st-person pronouns to refer to themselves as well.
In this talk, Professor Ethan Kross will review findings from a growing body of psychological and neuroscience research, which suggests that far from representing a simple quirk of speech, engaging in such distanced self-talk enhances people’s ability to control their thoughts, feelings, and behavior under stress.