Christian S. Gle Prof. Catherine DG. SantosBEEd 2nd year – section A GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY (Revised Handouts)Objectives: At the end of the lesson, the student will be able to: Define Gestalt psychology Know the different founders of Gestalt psychology Describe the different gestalt principles Enlist ways of applying Gestalt psychology in the teaching-learning process.Lesson Content: Gestalt loosely translated into English, meaning “shape” or “form”. Gestalt psychology is based on the observation that we often experience things that are not a part of our simple sensations. Gestalt theory was the initial cognitive response to behaviorism. It emphasized the importance of sensory wholes and the dynamic nature of visual perception.FOUNDERS OF GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY MAX WERTHEIMER Max He was born in Prague on April 15, 1880. His father was a Wertheimer teacher and the director at a commercial school. Max studied law for more than two years, but decided he preferred philosophy. He left to study in Berlin, where he took classes from Stumpf, then got his doctoral degree (summa cum laude) from Külpe and the University of Würzburg in 1904. In 1910, he went to the University of Frankfurt’s Psychological Institute. While on vacation that same year, he became interested in the perceptions he experienced on a train. While stopped at the station, he bought a toy stroboscope -- a spinning drum with slots to look through and pictures on the inside, sort of a primitive movie machine or sophisticated flip book. At Frankfurt, his former teacher Friedrich Schumann, now there as well, gave him the use of a tachistoscope to study the effect. His first subjects were two younger assistants, Wolfgang Köhler and Kurt Koffka. They would become his lifelong partners.
MAX WERTHEIMER (continued)He published his seminal paper in 1912: "Experimental Studiesof the Perception of Movement." That year, he was offered alectureship at the University of Frankfurt. In 1916, he moved toBerlin, and in 1922 was made an assistant professor there. In1925, he came back to Frankfurt, this time as a professor.In 1933, he moved to the United States to escape the troubles inGermany. The next year, he began teaching at the New Schoolfor Social Research in New York City. While there, he wrote hisbest known book, Productive Thinking, which was publishedposthumously by his son, Michael Wertheimer, a successfulpsychologist in his own right. He died October 12, 1943 of acoronary embolism at his home in New York. WOLFGANG KOHLERWolfgang Köhler was born January 21, 1887, in Reval,Estonia. He received his PhD in 1908 from the University ofBerlin. He then became an assistant at the PsychologicalInstitute in Frankfurt, where he met and worked with MaxWertheimer.In 1913, he took advantage of an assignment to study at theAnthropoid Station at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, andstayed there till 1920. In 1917, he wrote his most famous book,Mentality of Apes. Wolfgang KohlerIn 1922, he became the chair and director of the psychology labat the University of Berlin, where he stayed until 1935. Duringthat time, in 1929, he wrote Gestalt Psychology. In 1935, hemoved to the U.S., where he taught at Swarthmore until heretired. He died June 11, 1967 in New Hampshire.
KURT KOFFKA Kurt Koffka was born March 18, 1886, in Berlin. He received his PhD from the University of Berlin in 1909, and, just like Köhler, became an assistant at Frankfurt. In 1911, he moved to the University of Giessen, where he taught till 1927. While there, he wrote Growth of the Mind: An Introduction to Child Psychology (1921). In 1922, he wrote an article for Psychological Bulletin which introduced the Gestalt program to readers in the U.S. In 1927, he left for the U.S. to teach at Smith College. He published Principles of Gestalt Psychology in 1935. He died in Kurt Koffka 1941. KURT LEWIN In 1890, he was born into a Jewish family in Mogilno, County ofMogilno, Province of Posen,Prussia (modern Poland). He was one of four childrenborn into a middle-class family. His father owned a small general store and afarm.The family moved to Berlin in 1905. In 1909, he entered the University ofFreiburg to study medicine, but transferred to University of Munichto study biology.He became involved with the socialist movement and womens rights around thistime. He served in the German army when World War I began. Due to a war wound,he returned to the University of Berlin to complete his Ph.D., with CarlStumpf (1848–1936) the supervisor of his doctoral thesis. Lewin had originally been involved with schools of behavioral psychologybefore changing directions in research and undertaking work with psychologists ofthe Gestalt school of psychology, including Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Kohler.He also joined the Psychological Institute of the University of Berlin where helectured and gave seminars on both philosophy and psychology.  Lewin oftenassociated with the early Frankfurt School, originated by an influential group oflargely Jewish Marxists at the Institute for Social Research in Germany. Butwhen Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 the Institute members had to disband,moving to England and then to America. In that year, he met with Eric Trist, of theLondon Tavistock Clinic. Trist was impressed with his theories and went on to usethem in his studies on soldiers during the Second World War.
Following WWII Lewin was involved in the psychological rehabilitation of former occupants of displaced persons camps with Dr. Jacob Fineat Harvard Medical School. When Eric Trist and A T M Wilson wrote to Lewin proposing a journal in partnership with their newly foundedTavistock Institute and his group at MIT, Lewin agreed. The Tavistock journal, Human Relations, was founded with two early papers by Lewin entitled "Frontiers in Group Dynamics". Lewin taught for a time at Duke University. Lewin died in Newtonville, Massachusetts of a heart-attack in 1947. He was buried in his home town. GESTALT PRINCIPLES Principles ExamplesLAW OF PROXIMITYThe closer objects are to each other, the more likelythey are to be perceived as a group.LAW OF SIMILARITYObjects that are similar, with like components orattributes are more likely to be organised together.LAW OF CLOSUREIn perception there is the tendency to completeunfinished or partially obscured objects. Kanizsa’striangle (right) is one of the most recognisableexamples of this.LAW OF GOOD CONTINUATIONObjects will be grouped as a whole if they are co-linear, or follow a direction.
LAW OF GOOD PRAGNANZPrägnanz means, in simple terms, “good form” andrefers to organising shapes to simple forms. Figuresare seen as their simple elements instead ofcomplicated shapes.LAW OF FIGURE – GROUNDViewers will perceive an object (figure) and asurface (ground) even in shapes are groupedtogether. This law also defines use of contrast. Each of the laws in this presentation provide a technique that can be used in instructional and interface design to maximise visual aesthetics, and therefore maximise learning potential for users. Don’t forget that just as these Gestalt laws are true when defining human perception, the opposite of each is also true. For example, in the diagram below, the figure on the right is DIS-similar to the others and therefore stands out. As shown previously, in verbal expression the rules relate to grammar and structure – in visual expression the rules can be explained with Gestalt principles, or “laws”. Traditionally, these laws of Gestalt show how visualisations can be effective when presenting static visual elements. Design has changed, technology has improved. We now have a multitude of multimedia components and new communication tools at our disposal – can we still apply Gestalt laws and principles to interface design?
Communicating visually has now been affected by computer screens and reading from a screenhas been shown to be more difficult than traditional printed materials, therefore: DESIGN ISEVEN MORE IMPORTANT!Gestalt principles and the Teaching- Learning processThe six gestalt principles not only influence perception but they also impact on learning. Otherpsychologists like Kurt Lewin , expounded on gestalt psychology. His theory focusing on “lifespaces adhere to gestalt psychology”. He said that individual has inner and outer forces thataffect his perceptions and also his learning. Inner forces include his own motivation, attitudesand feelings. Outer forces may include the attitude and behavior of the teacher and classmates.All these forces interact and impact on the person’s learning. Mario Polito, an Italianpsychologist writes about the relevance of Gestalt psychology to education.“Gestalt theory is focused on the experience of contact that occurs in the here now. It considerswith interest the life space of teachers as well as students. It takes interest in the complexity ofexperience, without neglecting anything, but accepting and amplifying all that emerges. Itstimulates learning as experiences and the experience as a source of learning. It appreciates theaffections and meaning that we attribute to what we learn. Knowledge is conceived as acontinuous organization and rearrangement of information according to needs, purposes andmeanings. It asserts that learning is not accumulation, but remodeling or insight. Autonomy andfreedom of the student is stimulated by the teacher. The time necessary for assimilation and forcognitive and existential remodeling is respected. The contact experience between teachers andstudents is given value: an authentic meeting based ideas and affections.’