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Gestalt Psychology. Chapter 12. Cognitive Psychology, Third Edition by Kathleen M. Galotti Copyright © 2004 by Wadsworth Publishing, a division of Thomson Learning. The Gestalt revolt. Around 1912…. Structuralism in waning, functionalism gaining ground

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Gestalt psychology l.jpg

Gestalt Psychology

Chapter 12

Cognitive Psychology, Third Edition by Kathleen M. GalottiCopyright © 2004 by Wadsworth Publishing, a division of Thomson Learning


The gestalt revolt l.jpg
The Gestalt revolt

  • Around 1912….

    • Structuralism in waning, functionalism gaining ground

    • Watson begins attack on Wundt and Titchener (1912)

    • People becoming aware of Thorndike’s and Pavlov’s animal research

    • Psychoanalysis 10 years old

  • In Germany…

    • Gestalt revolt

      • Revolt against Wundt


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The Gestalt revolt

  • A hypothetical debate:

    • Describe what you see (on the table)

  • Wundt

    • Consciousness made up of sensory elements

  • Gestaltists

    • Consciousness can not be reduced to elements

    • The whole is different from the sum of its parts.


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The Gestalt revolt

  • More to perception than meets the eye

    • Perception goes beyond the sensory elements

    • Elements can be put together in ways other than just mechanical association; perception is not passive

    • These elements are only physical data coming to the sense organs, where the mind codes and interprets them


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Sensation vs. Perception

Kassin, S. (2001). Psychology, third edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


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The Gestalt revolt

  • James

  • Phenomenology

    • A new introspective method:

      • Uncorrected observation (no trained observers)

      • Experience not analyzed into elements


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Another important influence…

  • The changing zeitgeist in physics

    • Physics moving away from atomism to fields of force


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The phi phenomenon: A challenge to Wundtian psychology

  • Wertheimer's 1910 research

    • Research idea

      • Idea came to him while riding a train

      • Apparent movement:

        • Why do we see movement when no actual physical motion occurs?

      • Stroboscope

http://courses.ncssm.edu/gallery/collections/toys/animations/cyclist/cyclist200.htm


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The phi phenomenon: A challenge to Wundtian psychology

  • Stimulus: two points of light being flashed sequentially

  • Wundt’s prediction:

    • perception of two successive points of light

  • Reality:

    • the perception was of a moving light when in fact the lights were not moving

  • Presented a challenge that the associationistic, elementistic psychology of Wundt could not meet

http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0070579431/student_view0/chapter8/phi_phenomenon_activity.html



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Bistablefigures

http://www.sandlotscience.com/Guided_Tours/Tour3/images/Vanity72.jpg


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The phi phenomenon

  • 1912: Wertheimer published results

  • Article indicates formal start of Gestalt school

  • 1933: fled Germany


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Gestalt Psychology

  • Founders

    • Wertheimer, Koffka, and Kohler – 1920s

    • “The whole differs from the sum of its parts”

    • Perception is not built up from sensations but is a result of perceptual organization

    • We use heuristics to make “best guesses” about the identity of stimuli


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Kurt Koffka (1886-1941)

  • 1922: article published in American journal

    • “Perception” in title led to misunderstanding that this was the sole interest of Gestaltists

    • Gestalt movement actually had a broader concern

      • Problems of thinking and learning and all aspects of conscious experience


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Wolfgang Köhler (1887- 1967)

  • Spokesperson for school of thought

  • Trained with Max Planck

  • Studied chimpanzees

  • 1935: left Germany due to anti-Nazi activities

  • Books became standard works of Gestalt theory

  • Suggested Gestalt theory as general law of nature


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Principles of Perceptual Organization

  • We perceive wholes, not clusters of sensations

    • Elements interact to create a “new” whole

      • The whole is different from the sum of its parts

    • Underlying premise:

      • Perceptual organization occurs instantly and is inevitable

    • Organizing principles not dependent on:

      • higher mental processes

      • past experience


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Perceptual Constancies

  • Size Constancy

    • Tendency to view an object as constant in size despite changes in the size of the retinal image.

http://www.psychologie.tu-dresden.de/i1/kaw/diverses%20Material/www.illusionworks.com/assets/images/constancy.jpg


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Perceptual Constancies

  • Shape Constancy

    • Tendency to see an object as keeping its form despite changes in orientation.

Kassin, S. (2001). Psychology, third edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.


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Principles of Perceptual Organization

  • Similarity


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Principles of Perceptual Organization

  • http://www.aber.ac.uk

  • Proximity


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http://daphne.palomar.edu

http://graphicdesign.spokanefalls.edu/tutorials/process/gestaltprinciples/closure/closure_a.gif

Principles of Perceptual Organization

  • Closure


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Principles of Perceptual Organization

  • Good continuation

http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~psyc351/Images/Wolfe-Fig-04-07-0.jpg

http://graphicdesign.spokanefalls.edu/tutorials/process/gestaltprinciples/continuation/continuation_a.gif


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Principles of Perceptual Organization

  • Common fate

http://www.tutkie.tut.ac.jp/~mich/humanmotion.gif


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Principles of Perceptual Organization

  • Figure/Ground

http://graphicdesign.spokanefalls.edu/tutorials/process/gestaltprinciples/figure_ground/images/fig_grnd02.gif


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Figure/Ground

  • Failing to divide figure from ground

http://www.apogeephoto.com/mag1-6/mag2-5mf1.jpg


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The nature of the Gestalt revolt

  • Demanded complete revision of psychology

  • Support for new view

    • Phi phenomena

    • Perceptual constancy

  • Attempts at analysis destroy the perception or whole (Gestalt)


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Gestalt studies of learning

  • Köhler: intelligence in apes

http://www.pigeon.psy.tufts.edu/psych26/images/kohler2.JPG


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Gestalt studies of learning: insight and the mentality of apes

  • Solving the problem:

    • Could the chimp see the “whole” problem?

    • Would proximity of objects influence solution of problem?

    • Insight

      • Spontaneous understanding of relationships


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The spread of Gestalt psychology

  • Mid-1920’s (Germany)

    • A coherent and dominant school in Germany

    • Attracting students from around the world

  • 1933 Nazi regime:

    • shift of Gestalt psychology to the United States


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The spread of Gestalt psychology

  • Slow acceptance in the united states

    • Behaviorism was at its peak

    • A language barrier

    • Belief that Gestalt psychology dealt solely with perception

    • Wertheimer, Köhler, and Koffka at small colleges without graduate programs, thus no graduate research assistants


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The spread of Gestalt psychology

  • Slow acceptance in the united states

    • Gestalt focus of protest (Wundt) no longer of concern in U.S.

    • The word “Gestalt”

      • Had no direct translation in English

      • Therefore, purpose of movement not obvious


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The Gestalt vs. the Behaviorism Revolutions

  • Both occurred independently of one another, but…

    • both started by opposing Wundt’s focus on sensory elements.

    • Ended up opposing each other

      • Value of consciousness

        • Gestalt psychologists

          • Accepted it

          • Criticized attempt to reduce it to elements

        • Behavioral psychologists

          • Refused it entirely


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The battle with behaviorism

  • Gestalt criticisms of its new target

    • Reductionistic and atomistic

    • Deals with artificial abstractions (S-R units)

    • Denies the validity of introspection

    • Eliminates consciousness

    • Would make psychology no more than a collection of animal research

  • Conflicts between proponents of the two schools grew increasingly emotional and personal


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Criticisms of Gestalt psychology

  • Organization of perceptual processes accepted as fact rather than studied scientifically

  • Basic concepts and terms are not defined with sufficient rigor

  • Too preoccupied with theory at the expense of research and empirical support

  • Quality of Gestalt experimental work is inferior to that of the behaviorists

    • Research lacks adequate controls

    • Its unquantified data elude statistical analysis

    • Insight learning: not replicable

  • Poorly defined physiological assumptions


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Gestalt rebuttals

  • A young science’s explanation and definitions are necessarily incomplete; Gestalt research is exploratory

  • Incomplete is not the same vague

  • Has from the beginning emphasized experimentation

  • Has engendered a considerable amount of research

  • Qualitative results take precedence over quantitative ones


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Contributions of Gestalt psychology

  • Permanent imprint on psychology

    • Influenced work in perception, learning, thinking, personality, social psychology, and motivation

  • Retained its identity, not absorbed by the mainstream as was behaviorism

  • Broke ground for cognitive movement

  • Fostered interest in consciousness as a legitimate problem for psychology