Study Notes

Introspection & the Cognitive Approach

AS, A Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Introspection gained a new lease of life when the cognitive approach realised that it could give reliable insight into higher mental processes if controlled very carefully.

Valuable inferences have been made from diary studies, where people have been asked to report specific details at regular intervals during a day or whenever a specific event such as forgetting a name takes place.

Similarly, almost all laboratory experiments conducted within the cognitive approach involve some introspection, even if it is only reporting which words you remember from a list you have learned.

Strengths and limitations of Introspection

Strengths of introspection

  • Introspection in controlled conditions allows experiments to be replicated
  • Introspection provides the only method to access our conscious thoughts and feelings

Limitations of introspection

  • Results of early experiments using introspection were not reliably reproducible.
  • There is no way to objectively verify the accuracy of introspection.

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