Validating Participant's Skill in Apprehending Inner Experience Using Descriptive Experience Sampling: Do Participants Become More Skilled Over Time? Cody Kaneshiro , Alek E. Krumm; Russell T. Hurlburt (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Henderson, NV ) C6
People's inner experiences (e.g., visual imagery, inner speech) are ubiquitous characteristics of humans. However, because inner experiences are private, psychology has long struggled with developing sufficient methods to provide measurements and descriptions of such phenomena. Descriptive experience sampling (DES) is a promising first-person method that provides high fidelity descriptions of pristine inner experience. Participants in DES studies wear a random beeper to collect samples of their ongoing experience in their natural environments at the moment of each beep. Within 24 hours, participants take part in an expositional interview with DES investigators. The expositional interview has two main goals: (1) to provide high fidelity descriptions of whatever inner experience was present at the moment of each randomly sampled beep; and (2) to provide iterative training to improve participant's abilities to apprehend their experience on subsequent sampling days. This sampling-and-interview process is repeated over a number of days. At the conclusion of DES sampling, investigators are able to provide an idiographic profile of an individual participant's inner experience. Thus, one fundamental aspect of the DES methodology is the expectation that, through iterative training, participants will improve their ability to apprehend their experience such that they are able to better zero in on experiences that occurred at the moment of the beep (i.e., avoid reports of experience and/or events that did not occur at the beep, such as their reaction to the beep or to events that occurred many hours or minutes prior to the beep) and cleave their reports to directly apprehended experience (i.e., avoid reports of inferred phenomena, such as assumptions or heuristics about their typical experience, as well as avoiding explanations or justifications for ongoing experience). However, the extent to which DES participants improve throughout the DES sampling process has never been directly investigated. This study compares the skill of DES participants over at the outset of and at the end of DES participation. Videotaped expositional interviews of twelve participants from two prior DES investigations were randomly selected; participant's first day, first beep interviews and last day, last beep interviews were examined. Each interview was independently reviewed and rated by two investigators using both qualitative and quantitative metrics. Qualitative metrics involved tracking and characterizing participant's ability to successfully cleave to the moment of the beep and to directly apprehended experience, and quantitative metrics involved counting participant's subjunctification (i.e., explicit verbal and behavioral indicators that a participant is not providing an unequivocal description of inner experience) density. We will discuss how participant's skill changed between their first and last sampling interviews in addition to larger methodological implications for similar introspective methods.