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Trends Cogn Sci. 2001 Sep 1;5(9):400-403.

Telling what we know: describing inner experience.

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Dept of Psychology, University of Nevada Las Vegas, 89154-5030, Las Vegas, NV, USA


It is claimed that psychological science can obtain accurate reports about people's inner experience. We reconsider three criticisms of introspection: Nisbett and Wilson's critical review of introspection, the failure of introspectionists to agree about imageless thought, and Skinner's behavioral position. We show that rather than dismissing introspection, these criticisms point the way towards technical improvements in the methods used to produce accurate descriptions of inner experience. One such method, Descriptive Experience Sampling, is described and used as an example to illustrate our conclusion that, although exploring inner experience is not trivially easy, it can provide important knowledge for many areas in cognitive science.

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