Regulation of the Stream of Consciousness: Toward a Theory of Ongoing Thought

  • Kenneth S. Pope
  • Jerome L. Singer


Consciousness—that familiar constellation of memories, sensations, plans, fantasies, fleeting images, and sometimes unrecognizable forms that constitutes our awareness from moment to moment—has received rough treatment at the hands of 20th-century American psychology. Neither the elaborate Titchnerian method of introspection nor the stirring, graceful prose of William James managed to extend the life of consciousness as a legitimate area for psychological investigation much past the turn of the century. As Roger Brown (1958) wrote, “In 1913 John Watson mercifully closed the bloodshot inner eye of American psychology. With great relief the profession trained its exteroceptors on the laboratory animal” (p. 93). Even the impact of Freudian thought and psychoanalysis, with its great interest in and respect for the inner life of the individual, failed to generate a renewed study of consciousness because it emphasized the overwhelming power of the unconscious and portrayed man’s life as determined by a hydrauliclike system of drives of which the individual was generally unaware. More recently, careful, creative, rigorously executed scientific work (Holt, 1964; Paivio, 1971; Segal, 1971; Sheehan, 1972; Singer, 1974a,b) has managed to open the door a bit toward a systematic study of consciousness, though psychology is still occasionally chastised for its “diverting preoccupation with a supposed or real inner life” (Skinner, 1975, p. 46).


Sensory Input Cognitive Style Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation Channel Space External Stimulation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Angyal, A. Disturbances of thinking in schizophrenia. In J. S. Kasanin (Ed.), Language and thought in schizophrenia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1944.Google Scholar
  2. Anokhin, P. K. Cybernetics and the integrative activity of the brain. In M. Cole and I. Maltzman (Eds.), Handbook of contemporary Soviet psychology. New York: Basic Books, 1969.Google Scholar
  3. Antrobus, J. S., and Singer, J. L. Visual signal detection as a function of sequential variability of Simultaneous speech. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1964, 68, 603–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Antrobus, J. S., Singer, J. L., Goldstein, S., and Fortgang, M. Mind-wandering and cognitive structure. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1970, 32, 242–252.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Antrobus, J. S., Singer, J. L., and Greenberg, S. Studies in the stream of consciousness: Experimental enhancement and suppression of spontaneous cognitive processes. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1966, 23 (2), 399–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bartlett, J. C. The coding of naturalistic sounds. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Yale University, 1975.Google Scholar
  7. Blatt, S. J. Levels of object representation in anaclitic and introspective depression. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 1974, 29, 107–157.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Bourne, L. E., Ekstrand, B. R., and Duminowski, R. L. The psychology of thinking. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971.Google Scholar
  9. Breger, L., Hunter, I., and Lane, R. W. The effect of stress on dreams. New York: International Universities Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  10. Broadbent, D. E. Decision and stress. London: Academic Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, R. Words and things. Glencoe, III.: The Free Press, 1958.Google Scholar
  12. Csikszentimihalyi, M. Flow: Studies of enjoyment. PHS Grant Report N. ROI HM 22883- 02, 1974.Google Scholar
  13. Csikszentimihalyi, M., Holcomb, J. H., and Csikszentimihalyi, I. The rewards of surgery. In M. Csikszentimihalyi (Ed.), Flow: Studies of enjoyment. PHS Grant Report N. R01 HM 22883 - 02, 1974.Google Scholar
  14. Degroot, A. Thought and choice in chess. The Hague: Mouton, 1965.Google Scholar
  15. Drucker, E. Studies of the role of temporal uncertainty in the deployment of attention. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, City University of New York, 1969.Google Scholar
  16. Eisenstein, S. The film sense. New York: Harcourt & Brace, 1942.Google Scholar
  17. Eliot, T. S. Hamlet and his problems. In Selected essays. New York: Harcourt & Brace, 1950.Google Scholar
  18. Erdelyi, M. H., and Becker, J. Hyperkinesia for pictures: Incremental memory for pictures but not words in multiple recall trials. Cognitive Psychology, 1974, 6, 159–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Erdelyi, M. H., and Kleinbard, J. Has Ebbinghaus decayed over time? The growth or recall (hypermnesia) over days. Cognitive Psychology, in press.Google Scholar
  20. Fiske, D. W., and Maddi, S. R. Functions of varied experience. Homewood, III.: Dorsey, 1961.Google Scholar
  21. Garner, W. R. The processing of information and structure. Potomac, Md.: Erlbaum, 1974.Google Scholar
  22. Giambra, L. Daydreaming across the life span: Late adolescent to senior citizen. Aging and Human Development, 1974, 5, 116–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gill, M. Topography and systems in psychoanalytic theory. Psychological Issues, Monograph 10. New York: International Universities Press, 1963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hariton, E. B., and Singer, J. L. Women’s fantasies during sexual intercourse: Normative and theoretical implications. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1974, 42, 313–322.Google Scholar
  25. Hebb, D. O. Drives and the central nervous system. Psychological Review, 1955, 62, 243–253.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hernandez-Peon, R., Scherrer, H., and Jouvet, M. Modification of electrical activity in the cochlear nucleus during “attention” in unanesthetized cats. Science, 1956, 223, 331–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Holt, R. Imagery: The return of the ostracized. American Psychologist, 1964, 29, 254–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Horowitz, M. Intrusive and repetitive thought after experimental stress. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1975, 32, 1457–1463.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Horowitz, M. J., and Becker, S. The compulsion to repeat trauma. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 1971, 253, 32–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Huba, G. J., Segal, B., and Singer, J. L. Consistency of daydreaming styles across samples of college male and female drug and alcohol users. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1977a, 86 (1), 99–102.Google Scholar
  31. Huba, G. J., Segal, B., and Singer, J. L. Organization of needs in male and female drug and alcohol users. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1977b, 45 (1), 34–44.Google Scholar
  32. Hurleburt, R. Self-observation and self-control. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of South Dakota, 1976.Google Scholar
  33. James, W. The principles of psychology, Vol. 1. New York: Dover, 1890/1950.Google Scholar
  34. Johnson, D. M. The psychology of thought and judgment. New York: Harper, 1955.Google Scholar
  35. Joyce, J. Ulysses. New York: Random House, 1961. (Originally published in 1922.)Google Scholar
  36. Kagan, J., and Kogan, N. Individual variation in cognitive processes. In P. Mussen (Ed.), Carmichael’s manual of child psychology, Vol. 1. New York: Wiley, 1970.Google Scholar
  37. Kalmus, H. Inherited sense defects. Scientific American, 1952, 186, 64–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kamin, L. J. Predictability, surprise, attention, and conditioning. In B. A. Campbell and R. M. Church (Eds.), Punishment and aversive behavior. New York: Appleton- Century-Crofts, 1969.Google Scholar
  39. Klein, G. S. Peremptory ideation: Structure and force in motivated ideas. In R. Holt (Ed.), Motives and thought. Psychological Issues, 1967, 5, 80–128.Google Scholar
  40. Klinger, E. Structure and functions of fantasy. New York: Wiley, 1971.Google Scholar
  41. Klinger, E. Utterances to evaluate steps and control attention distinguish operant from respondent thought while thinking out loud. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 1974, 4 (1), 44–45.Google Scholar
  42. Kris, E. On preconscious mental processes. In D. Rapaport (Ed.), Organization and pathology of thought. New York: Columbia University Press, 1951. Pp. 474–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Langer, S. K. Philosophy in a new key. New York: Mentor Books, 1964.Google Scholar
  44. Lashley, K. S. Cerebral organization and behavior. In The brain and human behavior, proceedings of the Association for Research on Nervous and Mental Disease. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1958.Google Scholar
  45. Lewin, K. Die psychische Tatigkeit bei der Hemmong von Willensvorgangen und das Grundgesetz der Assoziation. Zeitschrift fiir Psychologie, 1916, 77, 212–247.Google Scholar
  46. Lewis, W. The art of being ruled. New York: Harper, 1926.Google Scholar
  47. Luria, A. R. The working brain. New York: Basic Books, 1973.Google Scholar
  48. Meskin, B., and Singer, J. L. Daydreaming, reflective thought and laterality of eye movements. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 1974, 30 (1), 64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Miller, G., A., Galanter, E., and Pribram, K. Plans and the structure of behavior. New York: Holt, 1960.Google Scholar
  50. Miller, T. Some characteristics of two different ways of listening. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, New York University, 1972.Google Scholar
  51. Mischel, W. Introduction to personality. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1971.Google Scholar
  52. Neisser, U. Cognitive psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1967.Google Scholar
  53. Neisser, U. Changing conceptions of imagery. In P. W. Sheehan (Ed.), The function and nature of imagery. New York: Academic Press, 1972. Pp. 223–251.Google Scholar
  54. Paivio, A. Imagery and verbal processes. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1971.Google Scholar
  55. Penfield, W. Consciousness, memory, and man’s conditioned reflexes. In K. H. Pribram (Ed.), On the biology of learning. New York: Harcourt & Brace, 1969. Pp. 129 - 168.Google Scholar
  56. Petrie, A. Individuality in pain and suffering. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1967.Google Scholar
  57. Pope, K. S. The stream of consciousness. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Yale University, 1977.Google Scholar
  58. Posner, M. I., and Boies, S. J. Components of attention. Psychological Review, 1971, 78, 391–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pribram, K. H. Languages of the brain. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971.Google Scholar
  60. Rapaport, D. The psychoanalytic theory of motivation. In M. R. Jones (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1960.Google Scholar
  61. Rescorla, R. A. Conditioned inhibition of fear. In N. J. Mackintosh and W. K. Honig (Eds.), Fundamental issues in associative learning. Halifax: Dalhousie University Press, 1969.Google Scholar
  62. Rodin, J., and Singer, J. L. Eye-shift, thought and obesity. Journal of Personality, 1976, 44, 594–610.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Rychlak, J. F. Time orientation in the positive and negative free fantasies of mildly abnormal vs. normal high school males. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1973, 41, 175–180.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Schachter, S., and Rodin, J. Obese humans and rats. Washington, D.C.: Erlbaum/Wiley, 1974.Google Scholar
  65. Segal, B., and Singer, J. L. Daydreaming, drug and alcohol use in college students: A factor analytic study. In Addictive Behaviors, Vol. 1, Pergamon Press, 1976. Pp. 227–235.Google Scholar
  66. Segal, S. J. Imagery: Current cognitive approaches. New York: Academic Press, 1971.Google Scholar
  67. Segal, S. J., and Fusella, V. Influence of imaged pictures and sounds on detection of auditory and visual signals. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1970, 83, 458–464.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Seidman, J. M. The adolescent, a book of readings, revised. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1960.Google Scholar
  69. Sheehan, P. The function and nature of imagery. New York: Academic Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  70. Shepard, R. N. Form, formation, and transformation of internal representation. In R. Solso (Ed.), Information processing and cognition: The Loyola Symposium. Hillsdale, N.J.: Erlbaum, 1975.Google Scholar
  71. Singer, J. L. Personal and environmental determinants of perception in a size constancy experiment. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1952, 43, 420–427.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Singer, J. L. The child’s world of make believe: Experimental studies of imaginative play. New York: Academic Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  73. Singer, J. L. Imagery and daydream methods in psychotherapy and behavior modification. New York: Academic Press, 1974a.Google Scholar
  74. Singer, J. L. Navigating the stream of consciousness: Research in daydreaming and related inner experiences. American Psychologist, 1974b, 30, 727–738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Singer, J. L. The inner world of daydreaming. New York: Harper & Row, 1975.Google Scholar
  76. Singer, J. L., and Antrobus, J. S. A factor analysis of daydreaming and conceptually related cognitive and personality variables. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1963, Monograph supplement 3-V17.Google Scholar
  77. Singer, J. L., and Antrobus, J. S. Daydreaming, imaginai process, and personality: A normative study. In P. Sheehan (Ed.), The function and nature of imagery. New York: Academic Press, 1972.Google Scholar
  78. Skinner, B. F. The steep and thorny way to a science of behavior. American Psychologist, 1975, 30, 42–49.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Sokolov, E. N. Perception and the conditioned reflex. New York: MacMillan, 1963.Google Scholar
  80. Sokolov, E. N. The modeling properties of the nervous system. In M. Cole and I. Maltzman (Eds.), Handbook of contemporary Soviet psychology. New York: Basic Books, 1969.Google Scholar
  81. Starker, S. Daydreaming styles and nocturnal dreaming. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1974, 83, 52–55.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Tomkins, S. Affect, imagery, and consciousness, Vols. 1 and 2. New York: Springer, 1962–1963.Google Scholar
  83. West, L. J. A general theory of hallucinations and dreams. In L. J. West (Ed.), Hallucinations. New York: Grune & Stratton, 1962.Google Scholar
  84. Wilson, E. Ulysses. New Republic, 1922, 31, 164.Google Scholar
  85. Woolf, V. Modern fiction. In V. Woolf, The common reader. New York: Harcourt & Brace, 1953. (Originally published, 1925.)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth S. Pope
    • 1
  • Jerome L. Singer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations