This post is by Robert Davies, a PhD student at the University of York. Robert is interested in self-knowledge and memory, and particularly how the study of memory can shed light on philosophical problems in self-knowledge.
Here is one variety of introspective failure: I make a choice but, when providing reasons, I offer reasons that could not be my reasons for that choice. Choice Blindness research by Lars Hall, Petter Johansson, and their colleagues (2005–) suggests it is surprisingly prevalent (see e.g. Johansson et al. 2008), showing a low rate of manipulation detection and a high degree of willingness, in non-clinical participants, to offer confabulatory explanations for manipulated choices across a range of modalities and environments (see e.g. Hall et al. 2006; Hall et al. 2010).
We see ourselves as introspectively competent, rational decision-makers—capable of knowing our reasons, weighing them as reasons, and self-regulating when required—but since widespread confabulation seems at odds with this, some reconciliation with the data is required.