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Introspective evidence in psychology

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Abstract

In preparation for examining the place of introspective evidence in scientific psychology, the chapter begins by clarifying what introspection has been supposed to show, and why some concluded that it couldn't deliver. This requires a brief excursus into the various uses to which introspection was supposed to have been put by philosophers and psychologists in the modern period, together with a summary of objections. It then reconstructs some actual uses of introspection (or related techniques, differently monikered) in the early days of experimental psychology. It distinguishes broader and narrower conceptions of introspection and argues that recent critics have tended to misdescribe how introspection was supposed to work. Drawing upon the broader conception of introspection, it argues that introspective reports are ineliminable in perceptual psychology. It concludes with some examples of such ineliminable uses of introspective reports in both earlier and recent perceptual psychology.
... This underlying behaviorist concept of 'objectivity' seems to dominate current neuroscience: The first-person perspective is often discarded as a source of scientific evidence (Velmans, 2007), due to an alleged lack of 'objectivity' (although the behaviorists themselves were less strict in this respect). The underlying skepticism contrasts with the key role introspection played in the history of psychological experimentation, as an important source of insight into psychological processes (Hatfield, 2005). First-person evidence seems indispensable in neuroscience e. g. in research on pain (Velmans, 2007), consciousness (Jack & Roepstorff, 2002) or psychophysics (Feest, 2014;Hatfield, 2005). ...
... The underlying skepticism contrasts with the key role introspection played in the history of psychological experimentation, as an important source of insight into psychological processes (Hatfield, 2005). First-person evidence seems indispensable in neuroscience e. g. in research on pain (Velmans, 2007), consciousness (Jack & Roepstorff, 2002) or psychophysics (Feest, 2014;Hatfield, 2005). Worshipping an ideal of objectivity on the basis of sciences such as physics or chemistry is only possible by treating subjects as to-be-kept-naive, robot-like stimulus-response mediators (Harré & Secord, 1972). ...
Article
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The experimental method has promoted the popularity of neuroscientific research on the human mind. In this interdisciplinary enterprise, the experimental method, with its roots in natural science and experimental psychology, is often uncritically accepted as the royal road to investigate the human mind not only by neuroscientists, but by many philosophers as well, especially those inclined to some form of naturalism. It is rarely disputed that experiments reveal actual states of nature (here: of mind and/or brain). Experimental results are used to picture the human person or subject as an illusionary construct resulting from neuronal interactions. The present paper sketches some of the limitations of neuroscientific experiments in order to demonstrate that cognitive neuroscience is far from relying on firm methodological grounds. Numerous issues still have to be solved, some of which date back to the early days of modern science. At least, to make experiments work, many theoretical presuppositions have to be accepted and decisions of relevance have to be made in the scientific process. This implies that all scientific endeavor is constituted by persons making free decisions for good reasons, despite all reductionist claims to the contrary. The fact that we as scientists have to distinguish relevant from irrelevant aspects of experimental procedures is also crucial for dealing with the current replicability crisis in the life sciences including neuroscience.
... After 1900, though, it became hotly debated and, ultimately, was relegated to the marginal position of a methodological makeshift not primarily due to its intrinsic methodological limitations, but due to a shift in psychology's main research interests and behaviorist polemics-or even "war" (Schwitzgebel, 2016)-against "introspectionism" which served as a foil for its own "objective scientific" approach (Coon, 1993;Danziger, 1980;Hackert & Weger, 2018). Although ubiquitous conventional self-report measures could well be characterized as "camouflaged introspection" bartering subtlety and richness for reliability (Boring 1953, p. 169; see also Bitbol & Petitmengin, 2013, p. 174;Schwitzgebel, 2016), there has also been a revived interest in introspective methods in the narrower sense in recent decades (Hatfield, 2005;Schwitzgebel, 2016) and several promising approaches to refine and update introspective approaches have been advanced. So, instead of elaborating on the history and varieties of introspective methods (see Burkart, 2018;Coon, 1993;Danziger, 1980;Lyons, 1986;Schwitzgebel, 2016), we will focus on the most prominent methodological objections as well as on recent refutations and methodological developments in reaction to them. ...
... 179-181;Witt, 2010, p. 502). This conception of introspection is therefore more adequately reflected in Hatfield's (2005) definition as a "mental state or activity in or through which persons are aware of properties or aspects of their own conscious experience" (p. 260). ...
Chapter
In our post-face, we discuss the intellectual traditions that have inspired communication researchers when conceptualizing and theorizing how we use the media. We reflect on the contribution of the articles in this volume to this particular approach to media use. We then try to contextualize the “how” of media use with regard to how we experience all kinds of worlds that we live in and how we modify this experience. Starting from this review and contextualization, we call for a synthesis, identify theoretical, empirical and methodological desiderata. Finally, we consider the critical potential of research on how we use the media.
... After 1900, though, it became hotly debated and, ultimately, was relegated to the marginal position of a methodological makeshift not primarily due to its intrinsic methodological limitations, but due to a shift in psychology's main research interests and behaviorist polemics-or even "war" (Schwitzgebel, 2016)-against "introspectionism" which served as a foil for its own "objective scientific" approach (Coon, 1993;Danziger, 1980;Hackert & Weger, 2018). Although ubiquitous conventional self-report measures could well be characterized as "camouflaged introspection" bartering subtlety and richness for reliability (Boring 1953, p. 169; see also Bitbol & Petitmengin, 2013, p. 174;Schwitzgebel, 2016), there has also been a revived interest in introspective methods in the narrower sense in recent decades (Hatfield, 2005;Schwitzgebel, 2016) and several promising approaches to refine and update introspective approaches have been advanced. So, instead of elaborating on the history and varieties of introspective methods (see Burkart, 2018;Coon, 1993;Danziger, 1980;Lyons, 1986;Schwitzgebel, 2016), we will focus on the most prominent methodological objections as well as on recent refutations and methodological developments in reaction to them. ...
... 179-181;Witt, 2010, p. 502). This conception of introspection is therefore more adequately reflected in Hatfield's (2005) definition as a "mental state or activity in or through which persons are aware of properties or aspects of their own conscious experience" (p. 260). ...
Chapter
The question of how the media are being used by individuals has not really entered the canon of traditional research interests and is not commonly used to characterize an established field of research in the discipline. We think this is worth changing. This volume therefore brings together a number of contributions that represent different perspectives, theoretical foundations and methodological approaches on this topic. In their entirety, they provide an overview of the work already done in the field so far and at the same time further develop it. This introductory chapter starts with some reflections on the relevance of this field of research. We then would like to attempt a rough overview of the relevant branches of research in this context in order to finally present and explain the selection of contributions collected in this volume.
... After 1900, though, it became hotly debated and, ultimately, was relegated to the marginal position of a methodological makeshift not primarily due to its intrinsic methodological limitations, but due to a shift in psychology's main research interests and behaviorist polemics-or even "war" (Schwitzgebel, 2016)-against "introspectionism" which served as a foil for its own "objective scientific" approach (Coon, 1993;Danziger, 1980;Hackert & Weger, 2018). Although ubiquitous conventional self-report measures could well be characterized as "camouflaged introspection" bartering subtlety and richness for reliability (Boring 1953, p. 169; see also Bitbol & Petitmengin, 2013, p. 174;Schwitzgebel, 2016), there has also been a revived interest in introspective methods in the narrower sense in recent decades (Hatfield, 2005;Schwitzgebel, 2016) and several promising approaches to refine and update introspective approaches have been advanced. So, instead of elaborating on the history and varieties of introspective methods (see Burkart, 2018;Coon, 1993;Danziger, 1980;Lyons, 1986;Schwitzgebel, 2016), we will focus on the most prominent methodological objections as well as on recent refutations and methodological developments in reaction to them. ...
... 179-181;Witt, 2010, p. 502). This conception of introspection is therefore more adequately reflected in Hatfield's (2005) definition as a "mental state or activity in or through which persons are aware of properties or aspects of their own conscious experience" (p. 260). ...
Book
This volume considers strategies, modalities, and styles of media use and reception. Dynamic changes in media technology and infrastructure have spurred important changes in media use. Looking at these developments within the common conceptual framework of reception strategies, modes and styles of media use and reception, this volume is highly relevant against the background of the changing media environment. When it comes to media use and reception, communication research has mainly dealt with two much-cited questions: What do the media do with the people? What do the people do with the media? In comparison, the discipline has devoted less attention to how the media are used, the modalities, patterns or configurations of the actual practices of media use. The volume features original contributions, both empirical and theoretical, on the key concepts and approaches in the field, covering old and new media and different types of media content. Offering a comprehensive overview of existing research as well as promoting original findings and insights, the volume will be of interest to communication researchers, students, and scholars.
... According to the second, experiments are set up in the light of a prior phenomenological analysis (by the experimenter or some other person). For reasons that will become clear momentarily, I refer to the former as an "reflective", the second as a "frontloading" model of phenomenology. 2 According to the first understanding of the role of phenomenology in perceptual research, such methods require subjects to describe not what they see, but how they see it (e.g., Hatfield 2005). Differently put, they have to reflect on their experience. ...
... In a similar vein, Chirimuuta points out that what she calls "introspection-reliant" methods in contemporary psychophysics are controversial, precisely because the more reflective subjects are allowed to be, the greater the worries about unreliability of their responses. Hatfield (2005) argues that these problems can be reduced by tighter experimental control and instructions. However, this seems to result in a trade-off between reliability and the use of phenomenological methods. ...
Article
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In his 1935 book Principles of Gestalt Psychology, Kurt Koffka stated that empirical research in perceptual psychology should begin with “a phenomenological analysis,” which in turn would put constraints on the “true theory.” In this paper, I take this statement as a point of departure to investigate in what sense Gestalt psychologists practiced a phenomenological analysis and how they saw it related to theory construction. I will contextualize the perceptual research in Gestalt psychology vis-a-vis Husserlian phenomenology on the one hand and mainstream psychophysics on the other, and I will argue that Gestalt psychologists practiced a form of “frontloading” phenomenology: Instead of requiring experimental subjects to engage in experiential reflections, such reflections were—in a sense—already engrained in the experimental designs used by researchers. This type of phenomenology was decidedly anti-“introspectionist” and as such was compatible with some of Husserl’s basic commitments, while at the same time bearing a surprising resemblance with the methods employed by psychophysicists like E. Boring and S.S. Stevens. This latter point will prompt me to explore what the difference between Gestalt-psychology and psychophysics amounted to. My analysis will reveal some disagreements and misunderstandings, especially with regard to the notions of isomorphism and introspection.
... Por fim, o fato de o voluntarismo e o estruturalismo não terem se mantido como escolas psicológicas após a morte de seus idealizadores não deve significar que a influência exercida por eles tenha sido insignificante ou, principalmente, que os problemas com os quais se debatiam acerca das definições centrais da psicologia tenham sido resolvidos, mas apenas que, na maior parte das vezes, novas formas de interpretação científica se impuseram como referência, apresentando os problemas em novas formulações e recorrendo a novos recursos, então inexistentes. Esse parece ser o caso, por exemplo, da introspecção que, como aponta o próprio Danziger (1980c), foi rejeitada mais em função do surgimento de novos interesses por parte dos psicólogos do que pelo caráter indissolúvel de dificuldades internas ao conceito, o que permitira compreender a retomada de sua discussão em estudos contemporâneos (Hatfield, 2005;Schwitzgebel, 2004). ...
Thesis
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O objetivo do presente trabalho é comparar as definições de objeto e método nos projetos de psicologia experimental de Wilhelm Wundt e Edward Titchener. Tendo em vista as aproximações equivocadas entre os autores presentes nos manuais de psicologia e a escassez de estudos mais sistemáticos acerca da obra de Titchener, em especial no cenário nacional, as comparações entre as idéias de ambos, disponíveis na literatura secundária, ainda não foram suficientes para demonstrar as diferenças entre suas propostas. Frente a este panorama, propõe-se uma comparação das definições de objeto e método da psicologia, especificamente nas obras que representam o período de maturidade das idéias de Wundt, com aquelas que caracterizam a expressão clássica do estruturalismo de Titchener. A tese central é que, em função dos distintos pressupostos teóricos, as noções de experiência humana e do domínio do psíquico adquirem um diferente significado no pensamento de cada autor, configurando com isso diferentes objetos de estudo para a psicologia e, consequentemente, uma diferente compreensão acerca das possibilidades e limites do método experimental.
... Note that they agree despite espousing very different views about introspection (and the mind). To cite just a few, see (Peacocke [1998]; Carruthers [2000]; Hatfield [2005]; Rosenthal [2005]; Goldman [2006]; Ryle [2009]; Chalmers [2010]; Schwitzgebel [2012]; Wu [2014]; Giustina and Kriegel [2017]). 5 Strictly speaking, a view where introspection and consciousness are not independent could still embrace this way of understanding introspection. ...
Article
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Introspection is a fundamental part of our mental lives. Nevertheless, its reliability and its underlying cognitive architecture have been widely disputed. Here, I propose a principled way to model introspection. By using time-tested principles from signal detection theory (SDT) and extrapolating them from perception to introspection, I offer a new framework for an introspective signal detection theory (iSDT). In SDT, the reliability of perceptual judgments is a function of the strength of an internal perceptual response (signal-to-noise ratio) which is, to a large extent, driven by the intensity of the stimulus. In parallel to perception, iSDT models the reliability of introspective judgments as a function of the strength of an internal introspective response (signal-to-noise ratio) which is, to a large extent, driven by the intensity of conscious experiences. Thus, by modelling introspection after perception, iSDT can calibrate introspection's reliability across a whole range of contexts. iSDT offers a novel, illuminating way of thinking about introspection and the cognitive processes that support it.
... As noted in section 1, a main source of concern for linguists prior to Chomsky stemmed from problems encountered by introspectionist psychology. Introspection proved inadequate to ground a consensus on various of the main questions introspectionist psychology pursued-such as identifying the atoms of sensory experience and determining whether there is imageless thought (see Hatfield 2005). These failures led to a more general mistrust of introspection as a valid or reliable source of evidence-at least for settling illuminating questions (cf. ...
Chapter
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The prominence of judgment data in contemporary linguistics is crucially tied to Chomsky's mentalist reconception of the field. Judgment data are meta‐linguistic judgments – judgments about specific linguistic items, construed broadly to include language‐like items (e.g. ungrammatical strings). A judgment of unacceptability provides stronger evidence of ungrammaticality – insofar as reasonable alternative explanations can be ruled out (pragmatic oddity, processing difficulties, memory constraints, lexical awkwardness, etc.). The use of judgment data has never been without critics. The objections have taken various forms. Earlier objections tended to deem judgments problematic as evidence per se, not just in linguistics but more generally. Later objections contend that the use of judgment data is problematic more specifically in the linguistic domain, in some cases on account of how they are in fact typically gathered or because of an over‐reliance on them over other sources of evidence. Judgment data, no matter how collected, have a definite future in linguistics.
... Subjective scales typically offer no further instruction or explanation, and the working of introspection has been largely taken for granted. Some promising, more philosophical views on introspection have been suggested (e.g., Hatfield, 2005;Gallagher and Overgaard, 2006), but they have not really affected the content or the use of subjective scales. Persuh (2017) recently contested the introspective measures claiming that, once quantified, the reports obtained using these scale are no more subjective than any other behavioral data. ...
Chapter
Research into strategies, modes, and modalities of media use and reception is characterized by a remarkable methodological diversity—in this volume but also in general. This chapter therefore aims at mapping and discussing some of the methodological approaches in this book but also in relevant research to date. These approaches are discussed in the context of some key methodological challenges posed by both the field’s particular object and perspective of research. Extending the discussion in Krämer and Frey (2019), this chapter elaborates on three interconnected methodological challenges that pose themselves to a particular degree when approaching strategies or modalities of media use and reception empirically: (1) Developing appropriate strategies of data collection to capture inaccessible elements of strategies, modes or modalities; (2) accommodating empirically the comprehensiveness and richness of theoretical concepts like strategies, modes and modalities; and (3) observing or experimentally manipulating the reception process without adulterating it.
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