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Introspection Essay

1788 words - 8 pages


Researched and written by Boban Simonovic

University of Derby

Abstract: It was the aim of this essay to try to cast a light on few methods in cognitive psychology, and explain the appropriateness of these methods. It is the researcher belief, that there is no pure method for investigation in psychology which provides guarantee against errors commitments. It is common for the history of ideas that when some concept gets rejected, even for the adequate reason, many associated concepts get ...view middle of the document...

They developed new technique of introspection which involved questioning participants during experiments. Study results suggested that here is no connection between the presentations of the problem (e.g. 8 divide with 4…) and the results, as it appears in consciousness (2). From the results Küelpe proposed thought without imagery, imageless thought, Wundt disagreed with imageless thought. This fact, that two laboratories can’t agree about one simple question led psychologist to mistrust and reject introspection as a method in cognitive psychology. As alternative to introspection John B. Watson's behaviorism emerged, with the interest in only observable measurable events. Behaviorism had big influence for around 50 years. Psychologists in that time start to be more interested in internal factors which are involved in controlling behavior, which led to development of Gestalt psychology. In Gestalt psychology thought was seen as an organizational process by which problems were resolved and reorganized. Even though Cognitive psychology came together as a coherent and organized movement in the second half of the 20th century few questions still remained unanswered. This research was concentrated on the introspection as a method and the use of it in cognitive science.


Introspection as a method arose when the life of consciousness, thought and imagination could not be longer studied in a speculative philosophical way, but on the basis of observation combined with techniques and laboratory apparatus. Some of the early work in observing introspection came from William James (1890) who observed that ‘We find ourselves in continual error and uncertainty so soon as we are called on to name and class and not merely feel’ (p. 191).James tried to compare subjective experiences by observing ‘a spinning top to catch its motion, or trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks’ (p. 244). James realized that the challenge of introspection was in the limitations of language, noting that ‘absence of a special vocabulary for subjective facts hinders the study of all but the very coarsest of them’ (p. 195).
Wilhelm Wundt, who was generally acknowledged as a founder of experimental and cognitive psychology, used methods, where reactions to systematic presentations of well-defined external stimuli were measured in some way (reaction time, reactions, comparison with graded colors or sounds etc.) Wundt’s work aimed to prove wrong assumptions that a thinking mind could take his own thoughts as an object. Wundt agreed that introspection couldn’t explain few mental phenomena (such as dreams, thought), but inner perception, as a method, would enable psychologist to examine sensations and feelings, if not thought itself. Introspection started to crumble beneath the weight of new arguments about mental phenomena. Different variety of methods proposed that complexity of the...

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