Qualitative-heuristic Psychology and Social Research Hamburg

Dialogic Introspection

These pages direct themselves towards psychologists, social scientists, students and researchers interested in introspective research using the Hamburg method. Under the various headings you will find descriptions of the classical method of introspection (History) and our own development of Dialogic Introspection (Method). The texts on methodology inform on basic assumptions and procedures of heuristic (or “explorative” or “discovering”) scientific research.

The Hamburg Group for qualitative-heuristic social research is an informal group of psychologists and social scientists meeting regularly every fortnight, usually at mondays from 7 to 9 pm, since several years. From 5 to 10 researchers participate. We also have a number of corresponding (former) members who now have jobs in other cities but participate in research and publications on introspection. Those interested to join us or to get into closer contact with us are very welcome!

Participants in Hamburg 2008 are students and those with academic degrees, working at the university, in their own businesses or consulting companies or freelance or in various institutions and companies and/or caring for their children and households, with very different life experiences and scientific training, of different ages, family background and gender. (The variation, by the way, is a prerequisite of heuristic research!). The meetings are interdisciplinary.

Objectives and working procedures

We are a workshop investigating psychic and social relations, structures and meanings in various fields using our own (inner) experiences by intro- and retrospection mainly within the group itself. The atmosphere is relaxed and democratic, the group decides on what to tackle. Nevertheless we have dominant goals and common convictions, mainly regarding the openness of explorative research.

At present we are most interested in introspection. Introspection was the “classical” method of the early European psychology (Brentano, Wundt, Würzburg School etc.) also practiced in North America (Titchener), which there, however, under the influence of Behaviorism, has been declared as “unscientific” since the twenties of the last century. The European development has been terminated by Nazism. Introspection as a scientific method of investigation of the inner psychic life seemed to be dead after World War II which was quite in line with the neo-positivistic mainstream of psychological and social research.

The re-vitalization of qualitative methods during the last two decades suggested a re-evaluation of the classical method of introspection. Some of the problems of classical introspection, however, mainly its subjectivity, had to be corrected. We therefore have developed a particular method of group-based introspection which we are using in our meetings. In a wider context we are also interested in concepts emerging from the present wave of studies of cognitive processes and theories of physiological and biological brain research and their relationship to introspective research.

Please visit our pages that treat Qualitative Heuristic www.heuristik-hamburg.net

Current publications

Burkart, Thomas, Kleining, Gerhard & Witt, Harald (Hrsg.) (2010). Dialogische Introspektion: Ein gruppengestütztes Verfahren zur Erforschung des Erlebens. [Dialogic Introspection. A group-based method to explore personal experience by self-observation]. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag.

Burkart, Thomas & Weggen, Jenny (2015). Dialogic introspection: a method for exploring emotions in everyday life and experimental contexts. In Helena Flam & Jochen Kleres (Eds.), Methods of Exploring Emotions (pp. 101-111). London: Routledge.

Last modification: 15.07.2015