Introspection Is An Illusion


An understanding of introspection sheds light on theoretical concerns involving the actor–observer bias, self‐enhancement, temporal distance effects, and the perception of free will.  People’s unique valuing of their introspections likely has deep roots, but this “introspection illusion” also causes problems.  It can foster conflict, discrimination, lapses in ethics, and barriers to self‐knowledge and social intimacy.  Understanding its sources and effects may help alleviate some of those problems.

Modern social psychological research has raised questions about the value and reliability of information gained via introspection….[people give] heavy weighting of introspective information for making self‐assessments…a few principles associated with that weighting—that is, that:
– it does not extend to how people treat others’ introspections
– it can lead people to disregard information conveyed by their own (but not others’) behavior
– it is rooted not only in people’s unique access to their introspections but also in the unique value they place on them.

Over‐valuing of personal introspections occurs in a variety of domains, including judgment and decision making, personal relationships, and stereotyping and prejudice.


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