Research Confirms That No One Is Really Thinking About You

And it’s actually a huge relief

Deb Knobelman, PhD
Ascent Publication
Published in
5 min readMay 6, 2019

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I used to spend a lot of time worrying about how other people judged me.

What I wore, was it appropriate, did it fit right? Did I say too much? Did I say too little? This person must think I’m too intense. And that person must think I’m not very fun.

And the thoughts were worse at certain times. When I was presenting in a work meeting, or when I was out at a social event. It was so distracting and difficult to stay in the present moment. Because I had a whole inner monologue going on in my head. I assumed every facial expression and every comment from others meant something. And there were always specific themes and beliefs. Universal truths about myself that other people surely thought. I’d hone them and shine them like a pretty little marble and then keep them in my pocket. It was exhausting.

I still do this today, to a certain extent. Certain beliefs about ourselves are hard to break. But I am now able to recognize the pattern and reframe my inner dialogue. Because I understand the truth about most people. The truth that has been shown in research over the years.

Nobody is thinking that much about me. Because we mostly think about ourselves.

Don’t believe it? Do you still think the people around you are spending a lot of time thinking about everything you do and say? Science disagrees.

Scientific evidence that we mostly think about ourselves

There’s actually scientific evidence that we mostly think about ourselves.

Back in 1997, Dunbar, Marriott et al studied the topic and content of human conversations. They found that 78% of conversations involved talking about ourselves and our perceptions of the world. As they said in the study, the number one function of conversation in the social domain is that:

it allows the speaker to convey to other individuals a lot of information about him/herself as a person.

So the first step was understanding that people mostly talk about themselves.

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