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Talking to one’s self isn’t just for preschoolers and wild-eyed conspiracy theorists. 

Consider these scenarios: trying to remember what you needed at the store, working to stay calm when something makes you angry, rehearsing asking for a raise or a date, calculating a tip or other mental math, looking for your lost phone, peering into a jammed photocopier, or trying to psych yourself up for a race or game. 

These, to name a few, are the times we talk to an audience of none. 

Private Lives, Private Speech
Talking to one's self is universal. It’s so common that it has a name: private speech.  Some scientists devote their entire careers to the phenomenon.  Most research on private speech is done with kids aged 2-7, among whom private speech is a part of normal development.  At first, kids talk to themselves just to play with words and express emotion. 

But gradually self-talk becomes more directed.  Kids begin to narrate tough tasks like learning to tie their shoes: “Now, the rabbit goes into the hole,” or make comments to themselves, like “I did it!” or “This is hard.”  It is kids’ external version of thought—truly thinking out loud.  Next, as kids get older, they may mutter, whisper to themselves, or move their lips without sound.  Finally, with time, the speech goes silent and is internalized as thought.  But whether private speech is loud or mouthed, it helps kids guide their actions and solve problems, which in turn advances their development.

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