Find over 25,000 psychological definitions

Gestalt psychology

a psychological approach that focuses on the dynamic organization of experience into patterns or configurations (from German Gestalt [pl. Gestalten]: “shape,” “form,” “configuration,” “totality”). This view was espoused by German psychologists Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Koffka, and Max Wertheimer in the early 20th century as a revolt against structuralism, which analyzed experience into static, atomistic sensations, and also against the equally atomistic approach of behaviorism, which attempted to dissect complex behavior into elementary conditioned reflexes. Gestalt psychology holds instead that experience is an organized whole of which the pieces are an integral part. A crucial demonstration (1912) was that of Wertheimer with two successively flashed lights, which gave the illusion of motion between them rather than of individually flashing lights. Later experiments gave rise to principles of perceptual organization, which were then applied to the study of learning, insight, memory, social psychology, and art.

Browse dictionary by letter

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Psychology term of the day

June 16th 2024

conversational maxims

conversational maxims

the four basic rules governing interpersonal communications. The rules state that such communications should be (a) truthful; (b) as informative as is required; (c) relevant to the matter under discussion; and (d) clear, orderly, and brief. Violations of these maxims are usually presumed to be deliberate or indicative of a cognitive disturbance. [introduced by British-born U.S. philosopher H. Paul Grice (1913–1988)]