ZeePedia
History and Systems of Psychology

GESTALT SCHOOL AND DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY:Kurt Lewin, DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY

<< GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY:Wolfgang Kohler, Kurt Koffka, Edward De Bono
HISTORICO-EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY:Leon Vygotsky, Sergei Rubenstein >>
img
History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
Lesson 24
GESTALT SCHOOL AND DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY
Kurt Lewin
Kurt Lewin was born in 1890 and died in 1947. He worked and taught with other prominent
Gestalt psychologists in Berlin until 1932, when he immigrated to USA and joined the University of Iowa.
Later, Lewin set up the Research Centre for Group Dynamics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
One of the contributions of Kurt Lewin is his theory which he called the Field Theory. The field
theory concept was also given by another Gestalt psychologist by the name of Kurt Koffka, but, Lewin's
theory was different from the one given by Koffka. According to Lewin's theory, the field, or the
environment around the individual has many attractions which may be positive or negative. The positive
attractions may be to achieve a goal in life or to help some one in trouble. On the other hand, negative
attraction may be to take undue advantage of someone in trouble. These attractions may also be called
positive or negative opportunities. According to Lewin's theory, because of these positive and negative
opportunities, conflicts arise in the mind of individuals who have the chance to avail either of the two
opportunities. Often both the opportunities may result in significant good for the individual while the
negative one may offer more value. Therefore, the conflict arises in the mind of the individual whether to
go for the positive opportunity with lesser good and satisfaction through doing the right thing, or to go for
the negative opportunity.
Lewin is a prominent Gestalt psychologist for his contribution in discovering the kinds of mental
conflicts that result in frustration and are responsible for a number of problems in people's lives. He
proposed three kinds of conflicts that a person may be faced with:
i.  The approach-approach conflict
The approach-approach conflict is a sort of conflict in which an individual is faced with the
challenge of liking between two things. He may only be able to approach one at time and the choice
creates the conflict. While choosing one of the options he foregoes the other one and the
approach-approach conflict comes up.
ii. Approach-avoidance conflict
The approach-avoidance conflict refers to when the individual is faced with the choice of avoiding
something or approaching something. This is the simplest of the three conflicts and the most
common one, where something attractive might have to be avoided because of an ethical reason.
For example making money through gambling is although attractive but avoiding it or approaching
it presents a conflict to the mind, since it is not ethically correct in our society to make money
through gambling.
iii. Avoidance-avoidance conflict
Avoidance-avoidance conflict refers to the conflict which arises because the individual faces the
challenge of which thing to avoid out of the options which all need to be avoided. For example, if a
sick person has to take bitter medicine, he would certainly want to avoid it. But on the other hand,
he is left with the other choice of accepting the sickness, which he would again want to avoid.
Therefore, the avoidance-avoidance conflict refers to the condition in which the mind has a conflict
because of two things which need to be avoided.
The other important contribution that came out of Lewin's work at University of Iowa is his theory
of leadership; and the measurement of leadership phenomenon. He recognized three different styles of
leaders:
55
img
History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
i.  Authoritarian
As the name implies, an authoritarian leader is the one who intends to make use of his
authority to carry out the decision making process. He likes little sharing of his power and
depends more on his own instincts and thoughts.
ii. Democratic
A democratic leader is the one who believes in considering the thoughts and opinions of others
for decision making. He lets others share their thoughts and make decisions based upon
consensus.
iii. Laissez-faire
A laissez-faire leader is the one who is willing to delegate power and authority to others for
making decisions. He lets other decide on some matters and leads more from the back seat.
Although Lewin started as a Gestalt psychologist in Germany but after migrating to the USA he
became more involved in group dynamics and there he set up a center which provided some very important
contributions in the field of group dynamics. Group dynamics is the study of behavior of individuals in
groups and the behavior of groups as a whole.
DYNAMIC PSYCHOLOGY
Dynamic Psychology is also called Hormic Psychology. The main proponent of this point of view
was a British psychologist William McDougal, who taught at Oxford University and later shifted to
America, teaching at Harvard and the Duke Universities.
William Mcdougall
William McDougall was born in 1871 and died in 1938. He was agreed with the American
Behaviorist School that psychology is the science of behavior, and that it should employ objective methods
for research and observation. He did not reject the value of introspection, for he thought that only
observation of behavior would give us a mechanistic view of psychology.
According to McDougall, behavior is the result of "internal strivings" an "urge to live," or horme.
This "horme" or the urge to live expresses itself in various forms and kinds of behavior. In other words, all
organisms try to survive against the environment. They battle with the environment in order to be able to
defend themselves against the hostilities of the environment and strive to survive. Because of his
explanation of behavior in terms of "horme", his point of view is called the "hormic" view point. He taught
that organisms show goal-seeking behavior and that behavior can be explained in terms of internal drives,
instincts or propensities. He identified at least 18 different kinds of propensities. The list included:
1. Propensity of curiosity
2. Propensity of sex
3. Propensity of disgust
4. Fear
5. Food seeking
6. Protection
7. Anger
8. Appeal
56
img
History and Systems of Psychology ­ PSY502
VU
9. Constructive
10. Acquisitive
11. Laughter
12. Comfort
13. Sleep
14. Migratory
15. Submissive
16. Gregarious
17. Self-assertive
18. Coughing, sneezing
According to McDougal, behavior is due to these propensities, which are the dynamic forces
behind all behavior and all of them put together can be shown to belong to the urge to live or horme.
57
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