Gestalt Psychology
Gestalt Psychology

Gestalt Psychology: Definition, and 3 Founders

Gestalt Psychology: Definition, and Founders – Max Wertheimer (1880–1943) was a man considered the founder of the Gestalt psychological theory, but he worked with two friends, Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and Wolfgang Kohler (1887-1967). These three figures have the same thoughts or in the same direction. The word Gestalt actually existed before Wertheimer and friends used it as a name.

Palland (from the Netherlands) suggests that the gestalt definition has been expressed since ancient Greece.

According to Palland, Plato in his description of the exact science (mathematics) has shown that in the unity of form there are parts or properties that cannot be seen in their parts.

Watson was a figure of behaviorism against Wundt (structuralism), while in Germany there was also a current against Wundt and Tithecener or structuralists in general, namely the Gestalt school pioneered by Max Wertheimer with his article “On Apparent Movement”, published in 1912. This school also opposes the flow of behaviorism that has an elementaristic view.

Gestalt Psychology Definition

According to the origin of the word, psychology comes from the Ancient Greek: “ψυχή” (Psychē meaning soul) and “-λογαα” (-logia which means science, so etymologically, psychology can be interpreted by science that learns about the soul.

The word “Gestalt” comes from the German word for “form or configuration”. The gestalt is a theory that explains the process of perception through organizing sensation components that have relationships, patterns, or similarities into a unity.

So, Gestalt Psychology is one of the schools of psychology that studies a symptom as a whole or totality, the data in Gestalt psychology are referred to as phenomena.

According to Gestalt psychologists, humans are not just reactional beings who will only do or react if there is a stimulant that affects them. Human is an individual who is a spiritual physical roundness.

As individuals, humans react or interact with the outside world in their own way. Personally, human beings do not directly react to a stimulant nor does the reaction do blindly or in a trial and error. Human’s reaction to the outside world depends on how he accepts stimuli and how and what motives he has. Human is a creature of freedom. He is free to choose how he reacts to which stimuli he receives and which ones he rejects.

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Gestalt psychology founder

Max Wertheimer

The oldest of the three series that founded the Gestalt theory was Max Wertheimer. On April 15, 1880 Wertheimer was born in Prague. Under Oswald Kulpe’s guidance he obtained a PhD. People considered Wertheimer to be the founder of the gestalt psychology theory after developing experiments with a device called a stroboscope.

The tool is boxed and there is a tool that can see the inside of the box. Inside there are 2 lines, one is upright and the other line is transverse. Then from both images are shown alternately and continuously until it gives the impression that the line is moving perpendicular to transverse or straight. The movement is a pseudo movement, because in fact the lines do not move only to appear alternately.

Wertheimer outlined the laws of the Gestalt in his 1923 book Investigation of Gestalt Theory. The laws include:

  • Law of Proximity
  • Law of Closure
  • Law of Equivalence.

Kurt Koffka

On March 18, 1886 Kurt Koffka was born in Berlin. He began his career when he was given a doctorate in 1908 from the University of Berlin. Koffka’s contribution to the world of psychology is systematic presentation and practice the principle of gestalt in a series of psychological symptoms, ranging from perception or absorption process, then studying, after that remembering, learning and social psychology.

Koffka’s theory of learning is based on the assumption that learning can be explained through the principles of gestalt psychology. Koffka’s theory of learning is:

Memory traces.

An experience that builds up in your mind or brain that is a memory flow that is systematically formulated following the principle of gestalt that reappears when it is assumed that there is something similar to the memory mark earlier or earlier.

Time travel affects memory traces.

Time cannot be debilitating, but causes trace changes, as these traces tend to be refined and refined to obtain better gestalt in memory.


By practicing continuously will strengthen the traces of memory.

Wolfgang Kohler

One of the founders of gestalt psychology theory, Wolfgang Kohler, was born in 1887 on January 21 in Reval, Estonia. In 1908 under C. Stumpf in Berlin, Kohler obtained his Ph.D. As for the experiment, a chimpanzee was placed in a cage. Then bananas are hung at the top of the cage. In the cage there are several different types of boxes.

At first the monkey jumped around to reach the banana but unsuccessfully. Because its efforts never brought results, this chimpanzee stopped for a moment as if thinking about how to get the banana. Suddenly the animal arranges the boxes in the cage to be used as stairs and then climbs them towards the bananas.

From this experiment, Kohler concluded that the organism that is chimpanzees as the object of experimentation, in order to solve the problem obtained by insight or understanding.

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Gestalt Psychology: Definition, and 3 Founders

Post in | Last updated: February 12th, 2021 |