Your inner voice.
How talking to yourself makes you smarter.
The Voice of Reason. Robson. (2010)
I was initially attracted to this edition of the New Scientist as the cover story offered to shed light on the value (or otherwise) of what some term ‘stream of consciousness’ others ‘this voice in our heads.’ Of what value is it? And if I can type as fast as I can think it is this a true reflection of what I am thinking, at the pace at which I am thinking it – or does the process lose something in translation? Using how we think and what we verbalise is given value here, which ought to bolster the views of H.E. institutions that ‘reflection’ has a purpose. The article also explains why we need to give things terms, though I’m also always curious to know why certain words last while others do not. If I’ve understood the ideas correctly then there is a suggestion that loose terminology, words for concepts that are not clear or still debated, are counter-productive, we need to be clear that our interpretation of a word, even something as simple as the colour yellow compared to orange, or hues of the colour blue, match the understanding that others have.
‘On average, 70 per cent of our total verbal experience is in our head.’ Boroditsky (2010)
Language helps us to think and perceive the world.
Naming objects helps us categorise and memorise them. Lupyan (2010)
i.e. things (concepts and objects) are more easily thought about if ‘verbalised’ through having a name.
However, labelling can also bury the detail. Lupyan (2010)
i.e. we humans work best at the macro rather than the micro level of terminology?
‘Labelling objects helps our minds build a prototype of the typical object in the group at the expense of individual features.’
Language shapes perception, argues Gabriella Vigliocca of University College London. Vigliocca. (2010)
The pumpkin test. 80% got the object from seeing it alone. 85 % of those who saw it and were told its name got it. While those who had what they could see in one eye ‘scrambled’ only achieved 75% suggesting that a visual with a verbal clue helps to anchor the object in the mind.
‘It seems that words prime the visual systems of our brain, conjuring up a mental image when it is seen’. Vigliocca (2010:32)
Boroditsky (2010b) recently found that Russian speakers, who have two words for different shades of blue, really are faster at discriminating between the different shades than English speakers. (The once discredited Whorfian hypothesis). The effect disappeared when they repeated a long number to themselves, as this interfered with their linguistic capacities.
Fundamentally, knowing the name for something helps identify it. Lupyan (2010)
‘It seems that our inner voice changes the way we experience the world. Language is like augmented reality – an overlay that changes how we think, reason and see’. Clark (2010:33)
With the above in mind I started the following list with a view to developing reasons for not using the word ‘stakeholder.’ With no end of this list in sight I may need to change my opinion, I may not like the word, but it works. But does it? Whilst ‘stockbroker’ I can see embodies a specific group of people, ‘stakeholder’ for shifts constantly, like a cloud forming under a summer sun.
- shop floor worker
‘Up to 80% of our mental experiences appear to be verbal rather than visual or emotional.’ Hurburt (2010) from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
‘It’s like a guidebook that has been developed by thousands of people before you, who have figured out what is important for to survive and adapt to our environment.’ Clark (2010)
Do you work with the radio on or off?
With the TV on or off? Or in an Open Plan office? Do you prefer a library or study? Can you work as you commute? Or on holiday?
Based on what we have learnt above what impact might this have on what you are thinking?
Does it depend on how easily distracted you are, how focussed? Work (study) in an environment that is relevant to the task and this enhances it whereas work (study) where verbal noise is a constant distraction and you cannot (or could not) work so well?
Clark, A (2010) Language and Cognition, University of Edinburgh. Interview for New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010)
Boroditsky, L (2010a) Interview for New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010)
Boroditsky, L (2010b) Quoted in the New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010) from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol 104, p7780
Hurburt, R (2010) Quoted in the New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010) from Psychological Medicine, vol 24 p385.
Lupyan, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010) from Psychological Science, Vol 18, p1077.
Lupyan, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010) from Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, vol 137, p348.
Robson, D. The Voice of Reason. pp30-33 Cover Story. New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010).
Vigliocca, G (2010) Quoted in New Scientist. 2776 (4 Sept 2010) from Psychological Science, vol 18, p1007.