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Chapter 2

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Western University
Psychology 2011A/B
Imants Baruss

Alter States of Consciousness: Wakefulness Introspection Modern Beginnings • Wilhelm Wundt - Founder of psychology as a laboratory science in the 19 century - Rejected the notion that scientists could understand experience itself through the unaided self-observations of others - Experimental introspection – confined to research concerning sensation and perception, in which lab instruments were used to vary the stimuli.  Stimulus conditions were so controlled and the demands on the observer so limited that the process of observation came to resemble in all important respects external, ordinary perception  Tachistoscope – a device for presenting visual stimuli for brief time periods. Used in Wundt study by presenting simple coloured shapes and participants are asked questions about the shapes size and intensity • Franz Brentano - Inner perception – the discrete noticing/glancing of what was happening to mental events as they occurred without interfering with them  The idea was to perceive indirectly, mental phenomena as they went about their business - Inner observation – alternative to inner perception, the direct focusing on one’s inner mental life  Brentano said this would not work because attention would be drawn away from the mental life of thoughts, feelings, and desires, thus destroying the mental events that one was trying to observe • William James - Introspective observation is what we have to rely on first and foremost and always - Introspection – LOOKING into our mind and reporting what we discover there - Retrospection - mental states can only be reported once they occur - James admitted that such a method was difficult and fallible, but is simply that of all observation of whatever kind • Introspection was extinguished by the rise of behaviourism in the early 20 century Computational Approach • It was thought that just like a computer can process information on its hardware, so could the brain process information on its wetware - Mental processes were conceptualized as operations on mental representations (the information that is in the brain) • Introspection was not possible - However, there was an explosion of academic interest in consciousness along with the assertion that introspection needs to be used as a means on investigation in the end of the 20 century • Problems include; it is unlikely that the brain actually instantiates formal logical states as codes a properly programmed computer. Presence of explanatory gaps between the physiological, cognitive, and experiential perspectives of consciousness Practical Applications • Metacognition – our ability to know something of our own cognitive processes • Consciousness, in the sense of subjective consciousness, is awareness - Introspection is part of the normal process of our consciousness whereby we explicate what it is that is occurring in our awareness • Point is, our experience is precisely that of which we are aware, thus introspection is just the awareness of our own experience • Experience sampling method – participants wear an electronic pager that goes off at random intervals as they go about their lives and are to write down a detailed description of what they were thinking about at that moment • Metaphors used to characterized the manner in which people’s perceptions of themselves function - The scientist - refers to a person’s dispassionate search for accurate self-knowledge, constrained only by actual perceptual and informational limitations - Consistency seeker – the motivation is to reduce inconsistency by selective remembering and confirming and distorting ideas about oneself, even if they are negative - The Politian’s – defines, constructs and negotiates ones self-concept with others in such a way to create a favorable impression on others - The egoist – people are motivated toward self-enhancement, people want to like themselves and will create a positive self-image Thinking The Stream of Consciousness • William James 5 characteristics of thinking 1. Every thought tends to be part of a personal consciousness  Thoughts are always owned by someone 2. Thought is always changing  No state once gone can recur and be identical with what it was before  Things may be similar to what we thought about in the past but the brain changes as a result of experience and hence is not the same at one time to the next  Changes in the brain translate into changes inexperience  Any changes at the level on consciousness must be explicable in terms of changes at the neural level 3. Thought is sensible continuous  James argues that the differences in content between successive thought are no more breaks in thinking than the joints in bamboo are breaks on wood  A river or stream are the metaphors that is most naturally described  Stream is both substantive parts (an object being thought about) and transitive parts (fringe of relations of that object to other objects) which combine to form a stream 4. Thought always appears to deal with objects independent of itself a) “Thought appears to deal with objects” is the contention that consciousness is structured in such a way as to be about something (intentionality) b) “Independent of itself” means the objects that we think about exist in a reality outside our thoughts. James grew skeptic of this material reality and later dropped this characteristics 5. Thought is interested in some parts of these objects to the exclusion of others, and welcomes or rejects all the while  We choose what to think about, thus we are also choosing what not to think about Dimensions of Thinking (Eric Klinger) • Thinking can be deliberate or spontaneous - Deliberate thinking – consist of specific content that is intentionally directed toward the attainment of certain goals  Controllability – thinking can be accompanies by a sense of desire, be checked against feedback concerning its effects, be evaluated according to its effectiveness in advancing goals, and be protected from drift and distracted thinking  About two thirds of their participants rated the majority of their thoughts as mostly deliberate - Spontaneous thinking – consist of thoughts that just pop into our minds  A third of participants rated the majority of their thoughts at spontaneous • Thinking can be either externally focused or internally focused - Externally focused – paying attention to what it going on around us - Internally focused – thoughts focused away from what is happening around us (one third of thoughts) • Thoughts can be strange on three dimensions - Fanciful or realistic  Fanciful thoughts are those in which important social role expectation or current versions of natural laws are violates e.g. sailing a bike on rooftops of neighbours houses - Disconnected  Thoughts can jump from one to another - Well-integrated or degenerated  Images often flow without beginnings or endings, shift gears drastically in the middle, and interweave • Eric Klinger also came up with other characteristics of
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