Chatter & Your Inner Voice – Ethan Kross


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We all have that inner voice in our heads. In his book Chatter, psychologist Ethan Kross shares insights from his research lab at the University of Michigan on how our self-talk impacts our lives, our attitudes, our health, and our relationships. Chatter includes a range of valuable tools we can use to control our inner critic and tap into our “inner coach.”

We discuss:

  • His work at the Emotion & Self Control Lab at the University of Michigan.
  • What he learned about introspection from his father.
  • Stats on our inner voice and how often we talk with ourselves.
  • How chatter and negative self-talk impact people.
  • How our inner critic and inner coach work.
  • What happens when we bring our other relationships in the conversation, with things like venting.
  • How people planning for retirement can best deal with uncertainty and fear.
  • Tools he finds useful in managing our inner critic and accessing our inner coach.
Ethan Kross joins us from Michigan.



Ethan Kross is one of the world’s leading experts on controlling the conscious mind. An award-winning professor and bestselling author in the University of Michigan’s top-ranked Psychology Department and its Ross School of Business, he studies how the conversations people have with themselves impact their health, performance, decisions, and relationships.

Ethan was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude. After earning his Ph.D. in Psychology from Columbia University, Ethan completed a post-doctoral fellowship in social-affective neuroscience to learn about the neural systems that support self-control. He moved to the University of Michigan in 2008, where he founded the Emotion & Self Control Laboratory.

Ethan’s research has been published in Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, among other peer-reviewed journals. He has participated in policy discussions at the White House and has been interviewed on CBS Evening News, Good Morning America, Anderson Cooper Full Circle, and NPR’s Morning Edition. His pioneering research has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Harvard Business Review, USA Today, The Economist, The Atlantic, Forbes, and Time.

Ethan is the author of the National Bestseller CHATTER: The Voice in Our Head, Why it Matters and How to Harness It, which was chosen as one of the best new books of the year by the Washington Post, CNN and USA Today and the Winning Winter 2021 selection for Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, Susan Cain and Dan Pink’s Next Big Idea Book Club. CHATTER is scheduled to be translated into over 35 languages.

Ethan lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and two daughters.


Wise Quotes

On Our Inner Voice

“…we do spend a significant amount of time in this world of words in our head. And sometimes those conversations we have with ourselves can be the source of a lot of joy. Like when you’re savoring, you’re going over, what happened like a positive experience that might’ve happened to you, or you’re imagining an accolade you might receive in the future. But we also spend a lot of time talking to ourselves in ways that can be really disparaging and make us feel upset. And that really captures this conundrum of self-talk. We have this inner voice that on the one hand can be this, this great source of wisdom and self-confidence and a wonderful coach. But on the other hand, we also have this inner voice that could turn into a really harsh critic…”

On Chatter versus Negative Self-Talk

“I think of negative self-talk and, in particular, I want to make a distinction between negative self-talk and chatter. And I want to make a distinction between them for the following reasons. Sometimes we say negative things to ourselves which can cause us to feel bad… That’s, I would argue, not a problem. It’s not a problem because negative emotions in small doses are actually quite adaptive. It’s useful. You know, when I screw up, when I say something bad to someone else at work, and I feel a little bit of guilt and remorse about doing that, I replay that conversation of my screw up in my head. That’s giving me information that I can learn from. That’s a learnable moment.”


For More on Ethan Kross, PhD

Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It


How well do you know your inner voice? Take this quiz and find out.


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