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There is More to Perception than Meets the Eye. Gestalt Psychology. The Main Players. Max Wertheimer (1880-1943) Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967) Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) Field Theory Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965). Max Wertheimer (1880-1943). Official Gestalt founder

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the main players
The Main Players
  • Max Wertheimer (1880-1943)
  • Kurt Koffka (1886-1941)
  • Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967)
  • Kurt Lewin (1890-1947) Field Theory
  • Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965)
max wertheimer 1880 1943
Max Wertheimer (1880-1943)
  • Official Gestalt founder
  • Discovers the PHI phenomenon
  • Started the journal Psychological Research (w/ Koffka, Köhler, Goldstein and Gruhle)
  • His best known book Productive Thinking was published in 1945


kurt koffka 1886 1941
Kurt Koffka (1886-1941)
  • Wrote the first article about Gestalt psychology in the Psychological Bulletin (1922)
  • Published The Growth of the Mind (1921)
  • Published Principles of Gestalt Psychology


wolfgang k hler 1887 1967
Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967)
  • Known for his chimpanzee research, and especially the notion of insight learning in problem solving. He wrote The Mentality of the Apes (1917)
  • In 1929, published Gestalt Psychology
  • 1959 became APA President
k hler 2
Köhler (2)
  • He was in Germany when Hitler came to power and was the ONLY non Jewish academic psychologist who opposed the Nazi regime publicly and protested the dismissal of Jewish professors from academia. He left Germany in 1935.


gestalt theory
Gestalt Theory
  • Sees the brain as a dynamic system in which elements interact
  • The brain organizes our perceptions
  • It does so by creating a kind of “map” (isomorphism), which is a good --though not perfect-- guide to the outside world
some principles of perceptual organization
Some principles of perceptual organization
  • Perceptual constancies (size, form, brightness)
  • Proximity, continuity, similarity, closure, simplicity (good form), figure/ground

(Look at Wertheimer's original 1923 article for examples)

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gestalt psychology and learning
Gestalt psychology and learning
  • Recommendation: connect things, encourage organization
  • Encourages active learning, to help organization emerge (discovery learning)
  • “Learning how to learn”


field theory kurt lewin 1890 1947
Field Theory: Kurt Lewin (1890-1947)
  • A person’s psychological activities occur within a life space field.
  • Within the life space are all present, past, or future events that may affect us.
  • Various elements have + or - valences, on the basis of which movements and/or conflicts occur
  • Unfinished tasks create tension (Zeigarnik effect)
group dynamics
Group Dynamics
  • Kurt Lewin originated the concept of Group Dynamics.
  • Famous study of leadership styles among groups of boys.
  • The “Research Center for Group Dynamics” which he started at MIT is still active today at the University of Michigan.
kurt goldstein 1878 1965
Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965)
  • A neuropsychologist (and psychiatrist)
  • Wrote a classic book: The Organism
  • In this book, he studied brain injuredpatients and the manner in which the nervous system responded both in trauma and in reconstruction: globally rather than specifically