An Experiment Demonstrating Group-based Dialogic Introspection
During the 2001 Blaubeuren workshop the Hamburg group directed an experiment to show the potentials of the method of dialogic introspection for data collection. The experiment was “qualitative”, aiming at the exploration of a concept rather than testing a hypothesis about it. The method of the qualitative experiment was well known to Gestalt psychologists, for a description of its history and character see Kleining (1986). The procedure of dialogic introspection combines individual introspection with a mental (inner) dialogue between the individual’s cognitive and emotional psychic qualities, between present and past experiences (introspective and retrospective) and between what the individual felt himself/herself and learned from reports of other respondents. The methodology of the approach is heuristic (Kleining, 1982/2001; Cox, 1995; Kleining & Witt, 2000, 2001; Burkart, 2002, pp. 91-98 in this volume).
About 15 researchers from different countries and native languages participated, men and women, all attendants of the Blaubeuren workshop and experts in qualitative psychological research. They were placed at a “round table” facing each other. The person directing the research (G. K.) informed the participants about the procedure:
The function of the person directing the test is the following:
The topic in our research demonstration was “a blackboard” pointing at one standing next to the group but with a comment that the topic could be understood more concrete or more general or in any other way.
The test proceeded as described above. The period of silent individual introspection lasted about five minutes until everybody had stopped to take notes. One persons then volunteered to start the reporting and after that the reporting continued clockwise. All participants gave information. The first reports were rather short and factual but later ones became more personal and included stories. There was spontaneous (non-verbal) agreement and laughing after one participant reported the terrible feeling caused by chalks scratching the blackboard. There was attentive listening and a general interest in other respondent’s reports. The second round was used by most participants for additions to their previous information. The test overall lasted about one hour in total.
Though there was no verbal recording and analysis, some information can be given about the kind of data produced by this procedure. The following aspects were mentioned and/or described:
In sum the experiment produced lively comments and stories on different aspects of the topic. They were
Evaluating the procedure of dialogic introspection it can be stated that the test produced a number of different though related aspects opening up the frame of the concept for an explorative analysis. What had seemed to be a rather simple and banal “word” thus turned out to be a concept with many facets.
If the analysis of the (recorded) data would follow the heuristic methodology, we would try to find common patterns or similarities within the data to discover the overall structure of the experience based on this particular test which would give hints to related concepts and their range of validity.
It also became obvious that there are a number of advantages of this particular method.
The discussion of the procedure after the end of the data collection pointed to ways of analysis of the information gained:
There are also limitations of this particular method. As all single methods dialogic introspection is not “the” but only “one” method among others and should be combined with other approaches which also is suggested by the heuristic methodology (“variation”). The limitations of each method, as well as its advantages, should be explored and taken into account in each research design.
Burkart, Thomas (2002). The Role of the Researcher in Group-based Dialogic Introspection. In Mechthild Kiegelmann (Ed.), The role of the researcher in Qualitative Psychology (pp. 91-98).Tübingen: Ingeborg Huber Verlag.
Cox, Laurence (1995). Discovery and dialectics: Gerhard Kleining’s methodology of qualitative research. RetrievedJanuary 9, 2002, from http://www.iol.ie/~mazzoldi/toolsforchange/postmet/method.html
Kleining, Gerhard (1982). An outline for the methodology of qualitative social research.Hamburg: University of Hamburg. Retrieved December 28, 2001, from http://www.introspektion.net/Archiv/outline_english/outline_english.html Retrieved December 28, 2001, from http://www.rrz.uni-hamburg.de/psych-1/witt/Archiv/QualitativeMethoden/KleiningEng1982.htm#
Kleining, Gerhard (1986). Das qualitative Experiment. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie, 38, 724-750.
Kleining, Gerhard & Witt, Harald (2000, January). The qualitative heuristic approach: A methodology for discovery in psychology and the social sciences. Rediscovering the method of introspection as an example [19 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 1(1). Retrieved December 28, 2001, from http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/1-00/1-00kleiningwitt-e.htm#
Kleining, Gerhard & Witt, Harald (2001, February). Discovery as basic methodology of qualitative and quantitative research [81 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 2(1). Retrieved December 28, 2001, from http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/1-01/1-01kleiningwitt-e.htm#
[i] In Finish „backboard“ would be “taulu”, which also indicates art paintings, at school the name would be “liitutaulo” (chalkboard). In German the translation is “Tafel” meaning also “table” from Latin “tavola” and art paintings on a wooden plate – “Tafelmalerei”. At school it would be “Schultafel” (information after the test).