A tweet went viral last week questioning the mind blowing phenomenon that not everyone thinks that same. Obviously, that's true, however it was how people thought that really struck a cord. Apparently, while some people have internal monologues inside of their heads narrating everything that they do, others use more visual cues.
The original tweet stated, "Fun fact: some people have an internal narrative and some don't. As in, some people's thoughts are like sentences they "hear", and some people just have abstract non-verbal thoughts, and have to consciously verbalize them. And most people aren't aware of the other type of person"
One user wrote in the comments that they thought voiceovers in movies were just to further the story along.
Another user took a poll on their instagram and asked friends to weigh in on the discussion. A response came from a user who claims that they never hear their own voice in their head. That, most of the time, their thinking is a combination of visual cues and maybe some words in there, but nothing to truly form a sentence.
In 2011, Chris Heavey and Russell T Hurlburt Ph.D. conducted a study at a university to determine if in fact a large percentage had an inner speech. The study sampled a random selection of 30 students and determined that only a quarter had inner dialogue.
However, Bernard Baars, a researcher in consciousness science, says that we talk to ourselves all the time, taking up a tenth of our day.
"Human beings talk to themselves every moment of the waking day. Most readers of this sentence are doing it now. It becomes a little clearer with difficult-to-say words, like ‘infundibulum' or ‘methylparaben'. In fact, we talk to ourselves during dreams, and there is even evidence for inner speech during deep sleep, the most unconscious state we normally encounter. Overt speech takes up perhaps a tenth of the waking day, but inner speech goes on all the time."
So could it be that there is a percentage of the population that instead visualizes their words. Linguist, John McWhorter, says that we are always visualizing images.
"When we utter a word, we cannot help but mentally see an image of its written version. In our heads, what we have said is that particular sequence of written symbols. When we say "dog," a little picture of that word flashes through our minds,Sesame Street-style. Imagine saying "dog" and only thinking of a canine, but not thinking of the written word. If you're reading this book, it follows that you couldn't pull this off even at gunpoint."
In Heavey and Hurlburts study, they show that "inner speech occurred in about a quarter of all samples, inner seeing occurred in about a quarter of all samples, and feelings occurred in about a quarter of all samples."
Because the "research" is based on self-reports and not actual science it seems dangerous to make the blanket statement that not everyone has an internal monologue. From what we can conclude, is that people "think" differently and that's not to say one way is wrong or right.
How do you think? Do you see images, hear words, talk out loud, or something else?