Introspection is the mental self-observation reporting of conscious inner thoughts, desires and sensations. It is a conscious mental and usually purposive process relying on thinking, reasoning, and examining one's own thoughts feelings, and, in more spiritual cases, one's soul. It can also be called contemplation of one's self, and is contrasted with extrospection, the observation of things external to one's self. Introspection may be used synonymously with self-reflection and used in a similar way.
Behaviorists claimed that introspection was unreliable and that the subject matter of scientific psychology should be strictly operationalized in an objective and measurable way. This then led psychology to focus on measurable behavior rather than consciousness or sensation. Cognitive psychology accepts the use of the scientific method, but rejects introspection as a valid method of investigation for this reason. It should be noted that Herbert Simon and Allen Newell identified the 'thinking-aloud' protocol, in which investigators view a subject engaged in introspection, and who speaks his thoughts aloud, thus allowing study of his introspection.
On the other hand, introspection can be considered a valid tool for the development of scientific hypotheses and theoretical models, in particular, in cognitive sciences and engineering. In practice, functional (goal-oriented) computational modeling and computer simulation design of meta-reasoning and metacognition are closely connected with the introspective experiences of researchers and engineers.
Introspection was used by German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt in the experimental psychology laboratory he had founded in Leipzig in 1879. Wundt believed that by using introspection in his experiments he would gather information into how the subjects' minds were working, thus he wanted to examine the mind into its basic elements. Wundt did not invent this way of looking into an individual's mind through their experiences; rather, it can date to Socrates. Wundt's distinctive contribution was to take this method into the experimental arena and thus into the newly formed field of psychology.
Introspection (also referred to as internal dialogue, interior monologue, self-talk) is the fiction-writing mode used to convey a character's thoughts. As explained by Renni Browne and Dave King, "One of the great gifts of literature is that it allows for the expression of unexpressed thoughts…" (Browne and King 2004, p. 117). According to Nancy Kress, a character's thoughts can greatly enhance a story: deepening characterization, increasing tension, and widening the scope of a story (Kress 2003, p. 38). As outlined by Jack M. Bickham, thought plays a critical role in both scene and sequel (Bickham 1993, pp. 12-22, 50-58). Among authors and writing coaches, there appears to be little consensus regarding the importance of introspection  and how it is best presented.
- Frank C. Keil, Robert Andrew Wilson (eds) The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences p.xx
- Fiction writing: The importance of your characters thoughts - Thoughts on Writing - Helium - by Mike Klaassen
- Fiction writing: How to write your characters thoughts - Writing Tips - Helium - by Mike Klaassen
- Schultz, D. P. & Schultz, S. E. (2004). A history of modern psychology (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
- Bickham, Jack M. (1993). Scene & Structure. Writer's Digest Books. ISBN 0-89879-551-6.
- Browne & King (2004). Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print. New York: Harper Resource. ISBN 0-06-054569-0
- Kress, Nancy (August 2003), Writer's Digest
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- About.com article on Introspection
- Self-Knowledge entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, entry by Brie Gertler (2003)
- Choice blindness
- Phenomenology (psychology)
- Style (fiction)
- Mode (literature)
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