Qualitative-heuristic Psychology and Social Research Hamburg

Dialogic Introspection

We apply a heuristic methodology or a “methodology of discovery” and think that both practical as well as theoretical question can be dealt with by empirical approaches. The methodology has bee presented in various publications (References). The methodology differs from hermeneutic-interpretative, from purely phenomenological and most basically from deductive-nomological procedures of hypothesis formulation and hypothesis testing. Our method is basically in line with an extended history of philosophical heuristics and heuristics in the natural sciences which has been neglected in the present mainstream of social and human sciences. It can refer to the methodologies applied in such “famous” research studies as the ones by Jahoda, Lazarsfeld & Zeisel “Marienthal” or the work of Piaget & Inhelder on children or the research of the “Chicago School” on problems of the modern city from the “Polish Peasant” to the “Street Corner Society” though their methodology is not under the name of heuristics. Our procedure uses some simple rules which are taken from everyday experience of discoveries. It is open for modifications and further developments. The heuristic methodology is similar to the “Grounded Theory” in its original form of Glaser & Strauss, not its later subjectivist interpretative turn. It differs from this methodology by the heuristic use of dialogues or dialectics and the critical potential which this technique offers.

This short paper offers arguments why research persons should consider to use dialogic introspection.

Kleining, Gerhard & Witt, Harald (2000): Introspection as a Research Tool for an Explorative psychology. Paper prepared for the Workshop “Qualitative Forschung in der Psychologie” Tübingen, October 20-22, 2000: http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/qualitative-psychologie/t-ws0/19-Kleining-Witt.htm (retrieved July 8, 2003).


This contribution discusses the historical background, the four basic rules to optimize the chance for discovery, the research process as dialogue, the testing processes, and as an example the methodology to investigate and reevaluate the classical method of introspection.

Kleining, Gerhard & Witt, Harald (2000). The Qualitative Heuristic Approach: A Methodology for Discovery in Psychology and the Social Sciences. Rediscovering the Method of Introspection as an Example. Forum Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/1-00/1-00kleiningwitt-e.htm# (05.02.01)[19 paragraphs].