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History and Systems of Psychology

GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Wolfgang Kohler, Kurt Koffka, Edward De Bono

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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Lesson 23
GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY
Wolfgang Kohler (1880-1943)
Wolfgang Kohler
Wolfgang Kohler was born in 1880 and he died in 1943. He was a German but is known mostly as
an American psychologist because he worked in America. From 1913 to 1920 he was director of a research
station at Tenerife, Germany. Later he served as both professor of psychology and director of the
Psychology Institute, Berlin. He came to the United States in 1934, where he became professor of
psychology at Swarthmore College. Köhler is best known for his experiments with problem-solving in apes
at Tenerife and the influence of his writings in the founding of the school of Gestalt psychology. His
writings include Gestalt Psychology and The Mentality of Apes.
Kohler's main contribution in the Gestalt School is his discovery of learning by insight. He
conducted experiments on monkey and saw that monkeys were able to solve their problems through
insight. He saw that monkeys were able to attach sticks together to reach far off objects which they thought
was food. They would also pile up boxes to reach high places if they wanted to. Kohler concluded that
learning takes place by insight. Monkeys thought about what to do first and then performed the action.
Based on this observation, Kohler concluded trial and error as a method of learning.
Kohler also postulated the concept of isomorphism which means that there is kind of a mental map
of the objects in environment, and this mental map helps in learning by insight. This means that in the mind
of individuals, there is a map which according to him is the explanation of the things around him. In other
words, the map is the individual's perception about the world around him. This concept was called
isomorphism by Kohler. These were some of the contributions of Wolfgang Kohler.
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Kurt Koffka (1886-1941)
Kurt Koffka
The other prominent contributor in the Gestalt school was Kurt Koffka who was born in 1886 and
died in 1941. He was an American psychologist but was born in Germany. Before settling permanently in
the United States in 1928 as a professor at Smith, he taught at Cornell and at the Univ. of Wisconsin. With
Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Köhler he is credited with developing the theories that gave rise to the
school of Gestalt psychology. His book Growth of the Mind (1924) was considered responsible for
awakening much interest in Gestalt concepts.
Koffka's concept of field theory was an important concept of the Gestalt school. He distinguished
between the geographical field and the field of experience. Geographical field is the actual environment
while the field of experience is the mindset of the observer. Humans react to the field of experience and not
to the geographical field. The geographical field is the actual field which represents the real world around.
The field of experience represents the experiences or the dispositions of the person who experiences the
field. For example, if a person goes for a walk in the garden and he knows that there have been witnesses of
snakes in that garden, he is quite likely to confuse a twig with a snake. This means that the person has
actually considered only the field of experience and ignored the geographical field or the reality. This is what
Koffka tried to explain. In his views, an individual tends to ignore the geographical field in face of the field
of experience which dominates his understanding or perceptions. The field of experience in the above
example may have been established by someone telling the person that there are snakes in the garden or
some previous incidents of snake sighting that the person might have heard of. These were some of the
contributions of Kurt Koffka.
Productive or Problem Solving Thinking:
Mihály Csíkszentmihályi
Productive thinking or problem solving thinking and learning by insight has been explained very thoroughly
by two psychologists, one in America and the other in the European Continent. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi,
born in 1934, is a psychology professor at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California and is
the former head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago. He is noted for his work in
the study of happiness, creativity, subjective well-being, and fun, but is best known as the architect of the
notion of flow and for his years of research and writing on the topic. He is the author of many books and
over 120 articles or book chapters. He interviewed and studied over two thousand creative people and
discovered some common elements in them. Some of those were; smart and naďve, playful and disciplined,
humble and proud, having great physical energy etc. Martin Seligman, former president of the American
Psychological Association, described Csikszentmihalyi as the world's leading researcher on positive
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History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
psychology. He is one of the most widely cited psychologists today, in a variety of fields related to
psychology and business.
Edward De Bono
The European who is famous in this regard is Edward De Bono (born in May 19, 1933) who was at
Cambridge University and developed his theory of Lateral Thinking which is akin to creative or problem
solving thinking. He developed some exercises to inculcate lateral thinking. Some of his exercises are,
"question" "rotate," discover "dominant idea" etc. Edward de Bono is a psychologist and physician. De
Bono writes prolifically on subjects of lateral thinking, a concept he is believed to have pioneered. De Bono
is also a consultant who has worked with companies such as Coca-cola and Ericsson. In 1979 he co-
founded the School of Thinking with Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson.
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION:Methodology, Grading, Course Overview up to Midterm
  2. ANCIENT GREEK PHILOSOPHY/PSYCHOLOGY:Socrates, Plato
  3. GREEK THINKERS:Aristotle, Contiguity, Contrast
  4. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Saint Augustine, Avicenna
  5. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 5TH TO 12TH CENTURY:Al-Ghazali, Ibn-Rushd, Averroes
  6. RENAISSANCE:Rene Descartes
  7. ASSOCIATIONISTS:Thomas Hobbes, John Locke
  8. ASSOCIATIONISTS:David Hume, FRENCH REVOLUTION, Denis Diderot
  9. GERMAN CONTRIBUTION:Wilhelm Liebniz, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Hegel
  10. INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION:RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS
  11. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Ivan Pavlov, Reflex, Acquisition
  12. RUSSIAN CONTRIBUTIONS:Vladimir Bekhterev
  13. IMPACT OF PHYSICAL SCIENCES ON PSYCHOLOGY:Charles Darwin, Gustav Fechner
  14. STRUCTURALIST SCHOOL OF PSYCHOLOGY:Wilhelm Wundt
  15. FUNCTIONALISM:William James, John Dewey
  16. EUROPEAN FUNCTIONALISTS:David Katz, Edgar Rubin, Jean Piaget
  17. BEHAVIORISM:Edward Lee Thorndike, Law of belongingness
  18. BEHAVIORISM:Albert Weiss, Edwin Holt, Learning, Canalization, Walter Hunter
  19. BEHAVIORISM:J.B.Watson
  20. NEO-BEHAVIOURISTS:Clark Hull, Edward Tolman, Edwin Gutherie
  21. NEO-BEHAVIORISTS:B.F. Skinner, Karl Lashley, Donald Hebb, Hobart Mowrer
  22. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Max Wertheimer, Similarity, Proximity, Closure
  23. GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Wolfgang Kohler, Kurt Koffka, Edward De Bono
  24. GESTALT SCHOOL AND DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY:Kurt Lewin, DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY
  25. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Leon Vygotsky, Sergei Rubenstein
  26. HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Alexei Leontiev, K.M Bykov
  27. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL DISORDERS
  28. SCIENTIFIC LOOK AT MENTAL ILLNESS:Philippe Pinel, Sameul Tuke
  29. SIGMUND FREUD AND THE PSYCHOANALYTIC MOVEMENT:The Superego
  30. SIGMUND FREUD AND PSYCHOANALYTICAL MOVEMENT:Anna Freud
  31. CARL JUNG AND ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  32. JUNG’S ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY:Carl Gustav Jung
  33. ALFRED ADLER AND INDIVIDUAL PSYCHOLOGY:Alfred Adler
  34. NEO-FREUDIANS:Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen Horney
  35. NEO-FREUDIANS:Karen Horney, Erich Fromm
  36. ERIKSON and MORENO:J.L. Moreno, Protagonist, Audience, Role playing
  37. HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY:Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Positive Psychology
  38. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT
  39. MODERN TRENDS IN PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT:Biological Approaches
  40. ANTI-PSYCHIATRY MOVEMENT:D.L. Rosenhan, R.D. Laing, Aaron Esterson
  41. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD:Frantz Fanon
  42. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE THIRD WORLD CHINA AND PAKISTAN
  43. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21st CENTURY
  44. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Consumer Psychology
  45. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE 21ST CENTURY:Sports Psychology, Positive Psychology