Gestalt Psychology Reflection

Gestalt Psychology Reflection
Catina Hunter
August 31, 2015
Dr. Sadie Fine

Gestalt Psychology Reflection

Since being discovered, gestalt psychology has made significant contributions to the

study of perception, learning and social psychology. It is a school of thought that looks at the

human mind and behavior as a whole. Here I will briefly discuss the origins, the main principles

of perceptual organization and how gestalt psychology is still contributing to the practice of

psychology today.

Gestalt psychology as defined by the Encarta Dictionary: English (U.K.), a branch of

psychology that treats behavior and perception as an integrated whole and not simply the sum

of individual stimuli and responses.

Gestalt psychology emerged in Germany as a response against Wilhelm Wundt’s

structuralism. Later the gestalt psychologists criticized the reductionist approach of behaviorists

like Watson. The school was officially founded in the 1920s, but it all began around 1910 by

Max Wertheimer (1880 – 1943) who was a Czech-born Jewish teacher. He produced a paper

called apparent motion which is about visual illusions. Apparent motion is what one perceives

when still images are being rapidly moved in a sequence, like watching a movie. Wertheimer

discovered that, the perception of the movement as a whole was very different from the

perception of the images being viewed individually as still images. This is where gestalt

psychology originated from. The idea being is that the whole is different from the sum of its


Wertheimer worked with two research assistants Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and

WolfgangWKohler (1887- 1967) who were classed as cofounders of Gestalt psychology because

they were so closely linked with the development of this school of psychology. Each saw objects

as things within an environment, and took into account all of the elements of the whole. This...