Mount Royal College, Calgary (AB), CANADA
Four sets of empirical evidence suggesting that
language (inner speech) plays a fundamental role in
1. Clinical evidence
Loss of inner speech following a stoke interferes
with self-awareness (Moss, 1972).
Conscious experience & inner speech return in
parallel as recovery occurs in patients suffering
from cortical damage (Ojemann, 1986).
2. Correlational & experimental evidence
Validated measures of inner speech & self-
awareness positively correlate (Morin & al., 1993;
Rivest & Khawaja, 1995; Siegrist, 1995).
Highly self-aware individuals use inner speech
more frequently in comparison to less self-aware
individuals (Siegrist, 1996).
This suggests that the more one focuses on the
self the more one talks to oneself (about oneself).
3. Developmental/comparative evidence
Language is fundamental to theory-of-mind
development (Astington & Jenkins, 1999; Pascual
& al., ASSC6).
(Non-linguistic) Primates are incapable of making
inferences about others’ mental states (Povinelli,
Both theory-of-mind & mental inferences
presuppose self-awareness and require language;
thus self-awareness too necessitates language.
4. Neuropsychological evidence
Inner speech & self-awareness seem to share a
common neurological basis -- the left inferior
frontal gyrus (Morin, 1999; see Craik & al., 1999;
McGuire & al., 1996).
Nature of the link (Morin, 1990-95): Why would inner
speech be important for self-awareness?
Hypothesis A: Inner speech can reproduce social
mechanisms contributing to self-awareness.
Mead: with inner speech we can incorporate
others' potential views of ourselves in self-talk &
gain an objective vision of ourselves.
Cooley: verbal comments made by others (self-
information) might imprint on our own inner
speech a propension to address such remarks to
Hypothesis B: Inner speech can "translate" self-
information into a verbal representation; this creates a
distance between the obser