If you refer to yourself in the third person for a day how does your understanding of self change? For example are you more inclined to consider your actions and motivations from and external perspective and perhaps question them more deeply? Or perhaps, does an exercise like this lead to detachment from self and perhaps some form of depersonalization? And is there any research in this area?


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One way to think about this is called "self-distancing" (e.g., Kross & Ayduk, 2011), which has primarily been studied in terms of emotion regulation. Self-distancing is when you view your experiences from a third-person perspective. This is generally considered to be an adaptive form of self-reflection (as opposed to rumination, which is generally considered to be maladaptive). However, as a rule, most things are neither purely adaptive or maladaptive.

Self-distancing is a relatively potent strategy for dampening negative emotions (Webb, Miles & Sheeran, 2012) and is associated with reduced cardiovascular reactivity to negative experiences (Ayduk & Kross, 2008). It's also associated with a reduction in intrusive thoughts and more problem-solving behavior (Ayduk & Kross, 2010).

If you're interested in learning more about this, look up Ozlem Ayduk and Ethan Kross.


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