An Overview Of Gestalt Psychology

1133 WordsDec 1, 20165 Pages
An Overview of Gestalt Psychology Though not practiced in contemporary psychology, the school of Gestalt—meaning shape or form in Deutsch—was a predominant topic among German psychologists in the nineteenth century. The term “Gestalt” was coined as a definition for the perception of a whole separate and different from its parts. Prior to this, psychologists had been analyzing the parts of the whole in order to explain the whole. In order to test the new theory, principles of Gestalt were established to prove that behavior is holistic rather than mere, singular sensations. These laws include: Pragnanz, Closure, Continuity, Similarity, and Proximity. Experiments on chimpanzees seemed to indicate that they use insight to solve problems. Using insight shows that they think holistically, which helps prove Gestalt. This school of thought was often seen as academically lofty and obscure, but still seems to be referenced—if loosely—today. At the turn of the twentieth century, Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener’s atomistic views were dominant in psychology (Lefrançois, 2012). Wundt’s structural approach focused on reducing mental processes to the smallest individual unit in order to understand the whole. Introspection was Wundt’s chosen method for discovery. In the United States and elsewhere, behaviorism and its proponents were also directing research. The behaviorists rejected introspection for stimuli and responses, focusing on observable behavior (Lefrançois, 2012).
Open Document