Have you ever been focusing extra-hard on a task, only to realize you were talking out loud to yourself while doing it? When there's someone else in the room (and, honestly, even when there's not), talking to yourself can feel pretty darn embarrassing. But according to Paloma Mari-Beffa, Ph.D., a senior lecturer of psychology at Bangor University, there's no need to be ashamed of babbling to yourself—in fact, it might be a sign of higher cognitive functioning.
In a recent article for Science of Us, Dr. Mari-Beffa wrote about research she conducted in January 2012 on how reading directions out loud affects a person's ability to complete a task. In the small study, she asked 28 participants to either read a list of instructions silently or out loud to themselves and then complete the task described to them. While the participants worked on the task, she analyzed their concentration levels and overall performance—and ultimately, she found that both were improved in those participants who had read the directions out loud.
Even though her study was small, Mari-Beffa's findings support the information we already know: We're always talking to ourselves—though usually silently—and that self-talk helps us to organize our thoughts, plan our actions, and control our bodies overall.
And why did talking aloud work better? Mari-Beffa suggests that reading out loud might have helped her participants better complete the task because we're simply better at responding to auditory commands than written ones. (One example she uses to make her case: Pro athletes, who often talk to themselves during high-stress competitions in an effort to keep themselves on their A-game.)
So, if Mari-Beffa's research holds true, your occasional one-on-none conversations might actually be a sign of greater intelligence (or, at the very least, higher cognitive functioning in the moment that you're having them). And that's nothing to embarrassed about, right?
This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.