James Abbott

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




This research explored the experience of self-talk (intrapersonal communication) among subjects of varying well-being, considering multiple characteristics of self-talk such as tone, content, timing, and subject awareness. The research questions were: (R1) How is intrapersonal communication used and experienced by those with higher and lower levels of self-assessed well-being? (R2) To what extent are subjects of varying well-being states aware of their intrapersonal communication?

Twenty semi-structured personal interviews were conducted with individuals of varying well-being and other characteristics such as age and occupation. The subjects ranged in age from approximately twenty-one to eighty. The interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and examined for common themes, using an analytic induction process. Various characteristics of self-talk were explored within the interviews including tone, utility and repetition.

Self-talk was commonly used by high and low well-being subjects, in all four life situations examined - decisions, disappointment, ethical dilemma and interpersonal conflict. Similar common usage was found in the mid-range well-being group, except with the disappointment context. Awareness of self-talk is common among all three groups, as was the tendency toward some level of embarrassment related to self-talk.

Both high and low well-being subjects exhibited a number of unique themes in their self-talk, and these themes lead to several practical implications. Although these themes are not implied as causally linked to well-being, they offer the potential for personal and professional experimentation. Practical implications of the research include the guidance to limit the extent of self-talk in ethical decisions and disappointment contexts, and to consider audible self-talk for decision and disappointment contexts. A progressive self-talk style and avoiding rumination are guides to consider in the decision context.

Theoretical implications are discussed, including the potential for extending the conceptions of well-being and symbolic interactionism.