Pristine inner experience while silent reading it’s not silent speaking of the text

Vincent P. Brouwers*, Christopher L. Heavey, Leiszle Lapping-Carr, Stefanie A. Moynihan, Jason M. Kelsey, Russell T. Hurlburt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We used Descriptive Experience Sampling to explore the pristine inner experience of 16 college students while reading Fitzgerald and Hemingway short stories. We provide rich descriptions of the phenomena while reading. Visual imagery was frequent. Although many theorists presume the ubiquitous presence of an inner voice that narrates the text as it is read, we found that only about 3% of samples involved such inner narration. Words were experienced during about a quarter of all samples, including: a focus on specific words from the text (but which were not merely inner reading), words innerly spoken in response to the text (content was related to the text but not of the text itself), and innerly spoken unrelated words (appa-rently not connected to the text). We suggest that presuppositions account for others’ overestimation of silent speech frequency, and discuss the impact of these findings on understanding reading and consciousness science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-54
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Consciousness Studies
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Descriptive Experience Sampling
  • Inner speaking
  • Inner speech
  • Iterative method
  • Phenomenology
  • Pristine inner experience
  • Reading
  • Silent reading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Artificial Intelligence


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