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Wilhelm Wundt's Explanation of Introspection

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  • 0:03 Introduction to Introspection
  • 1:00 The Value of Introspection
  • 1:39 How Does That Make You Feel?
  • 2:41 Another Example of…
  • 3:27 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Nathan Kilgore

Nathan has taught college Psychology, Sociology, English, and Communications and has a master's degree in education.

Wilhelm Wundt offered a foundation for psychology, and many today note him as the father of psychology. This lesson aims to describe and define Wundt's emphasis on the process of introspection.

Introduction to Introspection

Wilhelm Wundt is known as the father of experimental psychology. This is due largely to Wundt's first book, Principles of Physiological Psychology, published in 1873. This book was groundbreaking, because up until that time psychology and physiology were considered one entity. Wundt's book defined psychology as a science apart from physiology, making him one of the first in history to be noted as a psychologist. His work in psychology has had a lasting impact, with one of his earliest influences being his introduction of introspection.

Introspection is when someone considers their own thoughts, feelings, and motives. Derived from Latin, introspection means to look inward. Introspection involves the observation of one's consciousness or awareness. Specifically, introspection involves what a person is thinking about themselves and experiencing in the present moment.

The Value of Introspection

Introspection is part of how we make sense of the world around us. The process of introspection is both reflective and subjective in nature. Because of its subjectivity, introspection is sometimes criticized as an unreliable method in psychology. However, most readily admit that introspection is crucial and helpful in the development of a healthy psyche. This is because introspection helps one define reality, or things as they truly exist. Consider cases of psychosis where an unhealthy psyche is marked by a distorted view of reality. To help remedy psychosis, things must be seen as they truly exist.

How Does That Make You Feel?

The following is a hypothetical example of introspection: your psychologist asks you to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and imagine yourself sitting at the beach. You are sitting on the sand, under the warm sunshine, and in front of you are gentle waves tumbling across the beach. The experience in that moment causes you to think about your life. As you reflect, you start to wonder why situations in your life occurred and begin drawing some conclusions about yourself - your personality and tendencies for behavior and decisions. You feel calm, peaceful, and content.

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