Roles of Researchers in Introspective Psychology
Gerhard Kleining, Thomas Burkart, Peter Mayer
(1) The paper presents various methodological approaches involving different roles of the research person, the topic of research and its social environment in introspective psychology. Introspection has been the main method of classical psychology and the preferred method of the Würzburg School. Systematic application of introspection came to an end after a change of the concept of psychology and the role of researchers. Earmarks were continuous attacks of "objective" psychology of the nineteenth century, the verdict against introspection by Behaviorism and a widely accepted deductive paradigm in academic psychological research since the middle of last century.
(2) The Hamburg Group of psychologists and social scientists tries to reestablish the method of introspection as a qualitative tool based on an explorative or heuristic methodology and a new "dialogic" research technique. Our attempt is to improve the validity of this method by combining classical (individualistic) and Würzburg (test-person-centered) research designs. It involves the elimination of a fixed hierarchical role differentiation between researcher and the test person by introducing a rolechanging and dialogic process between them. Researchers in either role should be treated as equally competent subjects, capable of reflection, observation and communication. In this way the subject should be brought back to introspective research.
(3) The paper was prepared for the "Workshop 2001: The Role of the Researcher in Qualitative Psychology" by the Zentrum für Qualitative Psychologie, University of Tübingen in Blaubeuren/Germany, October 19-21, 2001.
Roles of Researchers in Introspective Research in Classical Psychology and the Würzburg School
Gerhard Kleining & Peter Mayer
1. Introspective Research in Classical Psychology: The Self-Experiencing Individual
(1) Introspection in classical psychology - ca. 1880 - 1920 - was either experimental e.g. reactivation research with partly considerable technical devices, large series and quantification (Wundt, Titchener) or phenomenological (Brentano, Husserl) with many variations inbetween.
(2) Wilhelm Wundt defined psychology as the science of "direct experience" ("unmittelbare Erfahrung") which sees inner and outer experience as only different points if view (1896, 9). The methods of the sciences ("Naturwissenschaften"), experiment and observation, are also applicable to psychology. "Pure observation" (28), however, as well as self-observation (10) are not possible within empirical psychology due to the process character of psychic experience. Wundt transferred the method of the experiment from the sciences, in particular from physiology, into psychology (1874) enabling the researcher to investigate psychic processes by intentionally creating certain sensations within the individual at a desired moment. The second method of the sciences, observation, should be restricted to the studyof general and rather stable mental products, as language, myths or modes of behavior. "Psychology therefore has two exact methods, similar to the sciences: the first, the experimental method, serves to analyze simple psychic procedures; the second, the observation of generally valid mental productions, to investigate higher psychic processes and developments." (29). Wundt originated a division of psychology into two fields of complexity ascribing them different methods: Experimental Psychology and "Völkerpsychologie" (which today could be named "Cultural Psychology").
(3) For Franz Brentano psychology was "the science of psychic phenomena" (1874, 27) dealing with the "most related and complicated phenomena" (39). Source of knowledge in psychology predominantly is "inner perception of ones own psychic phenomena (innere Wahrnehmung)." "We would never know what an image is, a judgement, what joy and harm are, desire and disgust, hope and fear, courage and despair, what a decision and an intention of will were if not inner perception of our own phenomena would show it to us." Brentano stressed "Inner perception, not inner observation", defined as an intentional direction of attention toward the inner self, which (since Kant) was seen as impossible during the actual experience of the psychic phenomena e.g. rage (40, 41; Brentano's italics). To overcome the disadvantage of inner perception Brentano suggested to add the observation of our previous experience stored in our memory as well as to enlarge our own restricted experience using the representation of psychic life of others which would "enlarge the peculiar facts for psychology a thousand times" (61, his italics).
(4) The obvious differences between Wundt's and Brentano's concepts of psychology - and the role of a psychologist in empirical research - should not obscure their similarities. Both believed that the contributions to psychological knowledge requested a psychologist experiencing himself, reflecting a concept of individuality, reflexive individualism and potential potency, an expert in his own right. It was the ideal of a self-experiencing and self centered individual as his own observer or recipient of his own inner images, his own data collector, protocol recorder, analyst and informant. In this respect his role of a researcher can be called highly autonomous or even solipsistic.
(5) The differences between both influential figures are equally visible. Wundt divided the field of psychology into simple and higher processes, ascribing different methods to the study of both - experiment and observation. Though the introduction of the experiment into psychology was a very important step forward methodologically, by restricting experiments to simple processes as sensations and a quantification of results he at the same time narrowed the researcher's potential roles. He would not accept experiments with phenomena of higher complexity. He also would not apply the method of observation to the self. Brentano in contrast to him, thinking about complex everyday psychic phenomena suggested to listen to the inner self introspectively, use memory and the reports of other people as well. It seems clear that Brentano's "phenomenological" concept was more attractive for the Würzburg explorative psychology and that Karl Bühler might get into a sharp discussion with Wundt on the role of the experiment in psychological research.
2. Introspective Research at the Würzburg School: Introducing the Test Person as a Source of Knowledge
(6) The Würzburg Psychological Institute between 1896 and 1909 produced a number of empirical studies which were of high importance not only for the development of introspective research but for qualitative psychology in general. The "school" was united by the topic - mental processes as thinking, judgement and will - and not by a well defined methodology though empirical research and the method of experiment were used by all researchers. The important difference to the role of the researcher in Wundt's laboratory was a particular use of test persons in introspective research first documented by Karl Marbe: the separation of researcher and data production.
(7) Karl Marbe has been working at the Würzburg Institute since its foundation and became his associate director. The director was Oswald Külpe, a former student of Wundt, who had founded the Institute and certainly created the atmosphere which made it possible for his young students to explore various methodologies and test approaches. He himself did not publish a piece of research under his own name, but participated as a test person in his student's work.
(8) Marbe's publication can be regarded as a door opener to explorative introspective research (Marbe 1901, 1-24, 43-48; Ziche 1999, 78-97). Seen from Wundt's concept of empirical psychological research there were several important improvements opening up new opportunities for explorative research.
(9) Marbe's results were correcting the leading theories of his time including Wundt's: judgements were not logical procedures based on division or combination of elements which were connected by associations but psychic phenomena on the basis of intended similarities or dissimilarities with existing mental images.
(10) Seen from the Marbe's methodological achievements the study of Narziss Ach on will and thinking is a step back (Ach 1905). His role as a researcher can be seen as a "controller". He developed a method of "Systematic Experimental Self-Observation" (Ziche, 1999, 104) using various forms of safeguarding:
(11) However there was detailed recording of the respondent's answers - in one case as voluminous "as a book". Ach also noticed that repeating the tests with different persons and under varied circumstances could eliminate individual deceptions (113).
(12) Despite the rather authoritarian social setting an important result emerged: the proof of the existence of "determinating tendencies", reported during a retrospection period after the actual test, showing intentional directions of the thinking process. The existence of "determination tendencies" also could be proven as existent after they had been induced by hypnosis. The machinery in the test room did not seem to contribute to any of the results.
(13) Karl Bühlerfollowed Marbe in his methodological openness and achieved the role of a discoverer. His translation of "eureka" ("Aha-Erlebnis") is well known. His methodology in his research on the psychology of thinking (Bühler 1907, 297-365, Ziche 1999, 157-209) and his role of a researcher is characterized by the following:
(14) Results were manifold. Bühler found three different ways the mind deals with - or analyses - thoughts: dividing them into parts, following the genesis of them and destroying their complexity by memory keeping only key information on them, e. g. "description of an opposition" (182-184). His experiments showed many examples of "unanschaulichesDenken" (thinking without concrete images) which many scientist in those days doubted.
(15) His method (and results) were so different from the standard of experimental psychological research, set by the Wundt laboratory, that it brought him a sharp attack by Wundt on his "Ausfrageexperimente" ("suck-out-experiments") which he returned defending his methodology (Bühler 1908).
3. Changing Role of the Researcher in Introspective Research
. (16) A change in the researcher's role from classical psychology to the Würzburg approach can be seen as follows:
(17) In sum: The role of the researcher in classical psychology was that of an "expert" in his own right. InWundt's case he was either in the field of experimentation or observation. As an experimentalist he was working in a laboratory setting, full of machinery, collecting masses of data of a few particular kinds for measurement, applying strong and restrictive rules of testing. Experience is gained by rigorous testing of simple mental processes. In the case of Brentano, the role of the researcher was that of an expert philosopher who understood that the "empirical point of view" of psychology was his ability to explore his own inner life by being perceptive of it. Experience is gained by inner perception.
(18) The role of the researcher in the Würzburg-type psychology was that of an organizer of research. He was collecting complex introspective data about everyday psychic processes from co-operating colleagues in a more natural social setting and probably a friendly and co-operative atmosphere under the direction of Oswald Külpe. The researchers were aware of the importance of a research methodology, which they developed and applied in a more or less "open" and explorative way. The responsibility of gaining results gradually moved from the individual expert to the methodology.
(References at the end of the second)
Ach, Narziss (1905). Über die Willenstätigkeit und das Denken. (On the Activity of Will and on Thinking). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Excerpts in Ziche (1999) 98-156.
Brentano, Franz (1874). Psychologie vom empirischen Standpunkt. (Psychology from an Empirical Point of View).Vol. 1. Reprint Oscar Kraus (Ed.) Hamburg: Meiner (1973).
Bühler, Karl (1907). Tatsachen und Probleme zu einer Psychologie der Denkvorgänge. (Facts and Problems concerning a Psychology of Thinking Processes). Archivfür die gesamte Psychologie 9, 297-356. Also in Ziche (1999) 157-212.
Bühler, Karl (1908). Antwort auf die von W. Wundt erhobenen Einwände gegen die Methode der Selbstbeobachtung an experimentell erzeugten Erlebnissen. (Response to W. Wundt's Objections to the Method of Self-Observation of experimentally generated Experiences).Archiv für die gesamte Psychologie 12. 93-122. Also in: Ziche (1999) 213-236.
Kleining, Gerhard (1982). An Outline for the Methodology of Qualitative Social Research.Hamburg: University of Hamburg. http://www.rrz.uni-hamburg.de/psych-1/witt/Archiv/QualitativeMethoden/KleiningEng1982.htm# (01.03. 01).
Kleining, Gerhard (1994). Qualitativ-heuristische Sozialforschung. Schriften zur Theorie und Praxis. (Qualitative-heuristic Social Research. Papers on Theory and Practice).2nd ed. Hamburg: Fechner.
Kleining, Gerhard (1995). Lehrbuch Entdeckende Sozialforschung. Band I. Von der Hermeneutik zur qualitativen Heuristik. (Textbook on Discovering Social Research. 1. >From Herrmeneutics to Qualitative Heuristics). Weinheim: Beltz Psychologie Verlags Union.
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 [19 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Social Research [Online journal], 1 (1). http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/1-00/1‑-00kleiningwitt-e.htm# (05.02.01).
Kleining, Gerhard & Witt, Harald (2001). Discovery as Basic Methodology of Qualitative and Quantitative Research.[81 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Social Research [Online journal], 2 (1), http://www.qualitative-research.net/fqs-texte/1-01/1‑-01kleiningwitt-e.htm# (12.02.01).
Kleining, Gerhard & Burkart, Thomas (2001). Group-based Dialogic Introspection and its Use in Qualitative Media Research. In: Mechthild Kiegelmann (Ed.) Qualitative Research in Psychology. Schwangau: Ingeborg Huber. 217-239.
Marbe, Karl (1901). Experimentell-psychologische Untersuchungen über das Urteil. Eine Einleitung in die Logik. (Experimental-psychological Investigations of the Judgement. An Introduction into Logic). Leipzig: Engelmann. Excerpts in Ziche (1999) 78-97.
Wundt, Wilhelm (1873). Grundzüge der physiologischen Psychologie. (Basic Outlines of Physiological Psychology). 2 vol. Leipzig: Engelmann.
Wundt, Wilhelm (1907). Grundriss der Psychologie. (An Outline of Psychology). 8th ed. Leipzig: Engelmann. First published in 1896.