Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences

, Volume 5, Issue 3–4, pp 271–301 | Cite as

The Descriptive Experience Sampling method

  • Russell T. HurlburtEmail author
  • Sarah A. Akhter


Descriptive Experience Sampling (DES) is a method for exploring inner experience. DES subjects carry a random beeper in natural environments; when the beep sounds, they capture their inner experience, jot down notes about it, and report it to an investigator in a subsequent expositional interview. DES is a fundamentally idiographic method, describing faithfully the pristine inner experiences of persons. Subsequently, DES can be used in a nomothetic way to describe the characteristics of groups of people who share some common characteristic. This paper describes DES and compares it to Petitmengin’s [Phenomenol Cogn Sci, this issue] second-person interview method.

Key words

Descriptive Experience Sampling introspection first-person methods second-person methods consciousness inner experience phenomenology random-sampling beepers idiographic 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Nevada, Las VegasLas VegasUSA

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