CBS Local– Referring to yourself in the third person may not be a great exercise to do in social settings, but it may be a smart thing to do when stressed. Talking to yourself in the third person can help reduce stress, according to a study published in the journal Scientific Reports.

For the study, researchers had participants look at disturbing and neutral images. The participants had to react to the pictures both in first and third person. With the stronger emotional pictures, such as a man holding a gun to one’s head, participants were less fearful when they referred to themselves in the third person.

“Essentially, we think referring to yourself in the third person leads people to think about themselves more similar to how they think about others, and you can see evidence for this in the brain,” said Jason Moser, lead author of the study via a press release. “That helps people gain a tiny bit of psychological distance from their experiences, which can often be useful for regulating emotions.”

The study also found that referring to yourself in the third person requires no extra effort, though it takes some getting used to.

“What’s really exciting here is that the brain data from these two complementary experiments suggest that third-person self-talk may constitute a relatively effortless form of emotion regulation,” said Ethan Kross, a researcher on the study.


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