cognitive Theorist: Max Wertheimer And Gestalt Theory Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Psychology, Education, Perception, Students, Science, Situation, Theory, Holism

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/09/10


Max Wertheimer, a great German and Amerian philosopher, psychologist and scientist devoted his researches to exploring of the perception of the outer world. During numerous experiments Wertheimer stated that observed properties of perception structure cannot be explained by the character of separate elements of perceived situation but demand the reported connections of these elements and holism of the situation. Research of the holism structure (gestalt) of the perceptible image sustained the main principle of gestalt psychology. Max Wertheimer was the first to distribute the principle of gestalt psychology from area of perception on other mental processes, in particular, on thinking, which Wertheimer considered to be a process of successive change of gestalts, different types of the situation perception under the influence of naturally uprising or specially formulated challenge. Principles formulated by Wertheimer are applicable and relevant nowadays in many spheres of human life especially in education.

Cognitive Theorist: Max Wertheimer and Gestalt Theory

Christian von Ehrenfels was the first to introduce the concept of gestalt psychology in 1890 when he investigated the issues of perceptual experience. In the beginning of XIX century Leipzig school was founded where associated complex qualities of gestalt psychology were determined as single experience. The beginning of the Second World War cooled down interest to this new uprising science. In 1978 new international psychological association was founded, called “Gestalt-theory and its application” which united specialists and researches from the countries all over the world: Germany, USA, Finland, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and others.
This direction of psychological science gave to the world a constellation of genius names. One of the most famous researches, experts and philosophers of gestalt psychology was Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), a German and American psychologist, philosopher and founder of gestalt psychology. He was a professor of University on Frankfurt-am-Main (since 1929), after immigration in New York (from 1933). In 1921 in cooperation with other German psychologists Wolfgang Köhler and Kurt Koffka founded scientific journal “Psychologische Forschungen” where he published his works on gestalt psychology. Published materials consider creative thinking analyses and its mechanisms as well as creative problems in science. Wertheimer dedicated his life to research of visual perception through different experimental ways.

Concepts, Facts and Principles of Gestalt Psychology

Observations, which Wertheimer received during numerous experiments, gave a grounding approach to perception and stimulated critique to associative chain theory. Thus, the main principle of mentality organization has become the principle of holism, which forms ideas and patterns. Research experiments in perception field allowed discovering the rules of perception, further the rules of gestalt. They allowed discovering the content of mental processes during the cooperation of stimulus in the body structuring and saving separate image data (M. Wertheimer, 1938).
Correlation of objective images should not be static and motionless but rather should be determined by changing correlations, established in the process of perception. Further experiments of Wertheimer determined multiple factors that influence steadiness and perfection of the form. Here you can refer the commonality of color and light, rhythmicity in building up ranges and other properties. Activity of these factors comply the main rule, which read as follows: all activities are interpreted as a need for steady conditions at the level of electrochemical process (M. Wertheimer, 1938). The perceptional process is considered to be inborn explaining by this the peculiarities of cerebral cortex functioning. Problematic situations analyses as well as methods of solving them allowed Wertheimer to outline several stages of a thinking process. First of all, uprising of intent feeling of tension which mobilizes creative potential of each individual. Then comes carrying-out of an analysis and understanding of a problem in order to create a single image of current situation. Third, we observe the solution of an existing problem; fourth - decision-making process and at last, execution status.
Gestalt psychology have become one of the most productive variants when solving the problem of integrity maintenance of Austrian and German psychological schools. Major representatives of Gestalt psychology like Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Koffka and others created a science to oppose the structuralism of current approaches. Wertheimer proposed several grounding principles of gestalt psychology like consciousness and awareness, understanding of which is based on holism principle. Consciousness is representing a dynamic whole where elements are compatible with each other. The unit of consciousness analyses is gestalt, i.e. whole integral image-structure; the main method of consciousness analyses has become immediate and objective observation of own perception content. Cogitation cannot be considered as a set of certain skills and knowledge being formed by way of trial and error (Koffka, K., 1935). Experience received in the past does not matter for addressing a problem. Gestalt psychology explore holism structures, originating from psychical field and developing newest experimental methods. Representatives of gestalt psychology thought that a core matter of this science is certainly analyses of mentality, all cognitive processes, dynamics and structure of personality’s development. Methodological approach to gestalt method is based on concept of psychical field, phenomenology and isomorphism. Psychic gestalts have similar physical and psychophysical characteristics, i.e. processes taking place in brain cortex have commonalities with the processes taking place in the outer world and recognized by us through experience and thoughts (M. Wertheimer, 1938).
Each individual is able to acknowledge own experience and find a way out of a problematic situation. At present practically all properties of perception are explored due to numerous experiments and research. It is proved that significance of this process is extremely important for forming and development of imagination, cogitation and other cognitive functions. This type of cogitation expresses a full process of imaginative presentation allowing to discover the most important mechanisms of creative thinking.

Modern Applications of Gestalt Theory

Wertheimer’s experiments did not have only academic character, he cherished the thought to perfect and even reform the school education applying some gestalt approaches (M. Wertheimer, 1938). Education was supposed to be developing rather than stultifying and should be oriented on strong sides of the personality rather than weak ones. Commonly accepted practice to cram up the material, forming bad habits of learning and do mechanically intellectual exercises, going blind, operating elements and parts ignoring the whole picture, Wertheimer considered to be the consequence of pedagogic and didactic malpractice associated with formal logic and superficial understanding of psychology. In psychological researches of mentality, Wertheimer saw new future scientific bases of school educational reforms. Works of Wertheimer concerning pupils’ capabilities are impressive since he believed that all human beings despite of physical or mental deficiency are able to achieve great results when properly treated and taught. Some of his methods are used at schools for children with special needs while methods developed by Max Wertheimer accept numerous approaches to education, refuses social stereotypes and standard evaluations of substantive work in school and pre-school education.


Koffka, K. (1935). Principles of Gestalt Psychology, Lund Humphries, London. Print.
Wertheimer, M. (1938a). Gestalt theory. In A source book of Gestalt psychology. Ed. W. D. Ellis. New York: The Humanities Press. pp. 1-11. Print.
Wertheimer, M. (1938b). The general theoretical situation. In A source book of Gestalt psychology. Ed. W. D. Ellis. New York: The Humanities Press. pp. 12-16.Print.

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