The basic makeup of inner life varies substantially from person to person.
Psychologists have many ways to get inside our heads: they can give us questionnaires, track our eyes, time how long we take to respond to cues and measure the blood flow to our brains.
But how close can these methods get to the texture of our inner lives?
My research says that there are a lot of people who don’t ever naturally form images, and then there are other people who form very florid, high-fidelity, Technicolor, moving images.
Some people have inner lives dominated by speech, body sensations or emotions, and yet others by ‘unsymbolized thinking’ that can take the form of wordless questions such as, “Should I have the ham sandwich or the roast beef?”
Inner speakers tend to be more confident, for example, and those who think in pictures tend to have trouble empathizing with others.
Maybe it’s a defensive maneuver on my part, but my rationale is that I don’t want to infect myself with some theory about how the world is. I would like to see the way the world is without having a theory about it.