Gestalt Psychology (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
The school of psychology that emphasizes the study of experience and behavior as wholes rather than independently functioning, disparate parts.
The Gestaltists were at odds with the popular school of psychology of the day, known as structuralism, whose proponents believed that the mind consists of units or elements and could be understood by mapping and studying them in combination. The Gestalt psychologists believed that mental experience was dependent not on a simple combination of elements but on the organization and patterning of experience and of one's perceptions. Thus, they held that behavior must be studied in all its complexity rather than separated into discrete components, and that perception, learning, and other cognitive functions should be seen as structured wholes.
The Gestalt school of psychology was founded in the early twentieth century by the German psychologist Max Wertheimer and his younger colleagues, Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler. The association between the three men began in 1910 with early studies of perception that ultimately led to the wide-ranging Gestalt view of the whole as more than the sum of its parts. Investigating the phenomenon of "apparent perception"on which motion pictures are basedhey discovered that when two lights were flashed in succession under specific...
(The entire section is 1053 words.)
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