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Introspection, psychology of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-W019-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2017
Retrieved July 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Introspection is the process of directly examining one’s own conscious mental states and processes. Since the seventeenth century, there has been considerable disagreement on the scope, nature and epistemic status of introspection. Descartes held that all our mental states are subject to introspection; that it is sufficient to have a mental state to be aware of it; and that when we introspect, we cannot be mistaken about what we introspectively observe. Each of these views has been disputed. Nineteenth-century psychology relied heavily on introspection, but with the exception of important work in psychophysics and perception, it is now primarily of historical interest. Recently, Nisbett and Wilson have argued that when people attempt to report on the processes mediating the effects of a stimulus on a response, they do not do so on the basis of introspection but, rather, on the basis of an implicit common-sense ‘theory’. Ericsson and Simon have developed a model of the mechanisms by which ‘introspective’ reports are generated and have used that model to identify the conditions under which such reports are reliable.

Citing this article:
Von Eckhardt, Barbara. Introspection, psychology of, 2017, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-W019-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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