Award Date

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Christopher Heavey

Second Committee Member

Russell Hurlburt

Third Committee Member

Murray Miller

Fourth Committee Member

William Ramsey

Number of Pages



Introspection can be defined as any effort to observe and report on internal experiences. As such, introspection continues to be a commonly used research method, including self-report questionnaires, experience sampling, and qualitative interviews. However, in these modern applications of introspection, the challenges of such endeavors are often not readily acknowledged or addressed. This study compared three introspective methods using a pre-test, post-test design: descriptive experience sampling (DES), the experience sampling method (ESM), and daily questionnaires (DR). Those who participated in DES, a beeper-based method designed to produce high fidelity understandings of random moments of inner experience, had lower average frequencies of common phenomena of inner experience (e.g., inner speaking) than did ESM or DR participants. DES participants also had differences twice as large, on average, as ESM and DR between in general reports of inner experience and momentary (ESM) or daily reports. These dramatic differences between DES and ESM or DR suggest that questionnaire-based methods (ESM and DR), regardless of timeframe, do not capture pristine inner experience. Furthermore, our results indicate that questionnaires are not a valid tool for estimating the frequency or describing the characteristics of various kinds of inner experience. Many of our psychological constructs and theories have been developed based on questionnaire data. Without valid, high-fidelity reports of inner experience, psychological science will be missing a vital piece of information: individual, lived experience.


descriptive experience sampling; inner experience; methodology


Clinical Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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