Is there a name for the phenomenon of arguing with other people in one's mind? I don't mean simply replaying memories of arguments (or modifications thereof), although that may fall under this too but also predicting arguments and debating people preemptively in one's imagination.

  • $\begingroup$ Thought experiment. $\endgroup$
    – 4231
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 8:24
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    $\begingroup$ Thought experiment is an imagined sequence of events. It is used to illustrate or investigate the consequences of a given action or condition, especially in philosophy and theoretical physics. It's not about psychology, it's a method of obtaining insight. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 19:54
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers: I do not dispute that thought experiments are used as a insight method in psychology as a science. However, the psychology process describing above is self-talk or an internal monologue. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of a term specifically for this phenomenon.

Having a conversation in one's head has been termed dialogic inner speech by several researchers. You didn't mention if the people you are arguing with reply back - if they don't, then it's just regular (monologic) inner speech.

One common function of inner speech is sometimes referred to as speech rehearsal - ie, where one might practice a monologue or dialogue (eg, debate) in their mind ahead of time.

In a more pathological context, repeatedly looping through a conversation in one's head can be a form of rumination, and simulating a future argument could be considered action rumination if it is a reaction to a recently failed argument.

  • $\begingroup$ I meant the people argue back by using the preposition 'with' rather than 'at' or something. Thanks! I'll accept this soon if nobody else answers with something better. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony
    Commented Oct 26, 2019 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ Good video on the subject: youtube.com/watch?v=DRLkDafQbP8 $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 22:37

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