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Abstract

People often talk to themselves using the first-person pronoun (I), but they also talk to themselves as if they are speaking to someone else, using the second-person pronoun (You). Yet, the relative behavioral control achieved by I and You self-talk remains unknown. The current research was designed to examine the potential behavioral advantage of using You in self-talk and the role of attitudes in this process. Three experiments compared the effects of I and You self-talk on problem solving performance and behavioral intentions. Experiment 1 revealed that giving self-advice about a hypothetical social situation using You yielded better anagram task performance than using I. Experiment 2 showed that using You self-talk in preparation for an anagram task enhanced anagram performance and intentions to work on anagrams more than I self-talk, and that these effects were mediated by participants' attitudes toward the task. Experiment 3 extended these findings to exercise intentions and highlighted the role of attitudes in this effect. Altogether, the current research showed that second-person self-talk strengthens both actual behavior performance and prospective behavioral intentions more than first-person self-talk. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.