Development of Gestalt Psychology

During the short history of psychology many influences played a role in the development of Gestalt psychology. “Gestalt psychology is an approach to psychology that focuses on the organization of perception and thinking in a “whole” sense rather than on the individual elements of perception” (Feldman, 2010) This essay will talk about the main influence that played a central element in the evolution of Gestalt psychology and also explain each of the gestalt principles of perceptual organization. A major influence on Gestalt psychology was the intensity of the behaviorist revolution that was brewing in the United States alongside the revolution that was taking place in Germany.

As time went on psychologists wanted to challenge Wundt’s approach of structuralism. The Germans became dissatisfied with the assumption that introspection could reveal the structure of the mind, thus leading to the Gestalt revolution in Germany.

Wundt Believed in investigating the immediate experiences of consciousness, including beliefs, emotions, volitions and ideas, “internal perception”, or the self-examination of conscious experience by objective observation of one’s awareness.

” (Feldman, 2010). Gestalt Psychologist was against this hypothesis. Gestalt psychologists believed that people don’t look at objects as individual lines, curves, forms and other designs; they perceive them as solid objects. (Schultz, 2011) They based their theories on something we know now as Gestalt Principles of Perceptual Organization. Gestalts came up with their school of thought, and these five elements played a role in defending their theories. The Gestalt Principles of Perceptual Organization are Proximity, Similarity, Closure, figure and ground and Continuity.

“These are a series of principles that describes how we organize bits and pieces of information into meaningful wholes.” (Feldman, 2010)

The Law of Proximity states that humans tend to group units or shapes visually together if they are near to each other. If the items are far apart, they are separate. ‘The Law of Closure states that human perception looks to ensure perfect, solid figures, yet if there are breaks or missing pieces of data it can still close gaps and provide the missing data.’ (Feldman, 2010) The Law of Similarity States that if objects or units look similar to one another, and so they will be visually perceived as part of a group, social system or blueprint.

The Law of Continuity, states that humans seek relationships between units and therefore will follow the shapes and lines beyond their ending point. The Law of Figure and Ground states principle states that human perception separates an object from its environment. In Conclusion, there were many influences that aided in the development of Gestalt psychology. Gestalt psychologist stated their argument and provided key evidence that defended their theories. The five principals are useful because people use them in our everyday life.

Feldman, R. S. (2010). Psychology and your Life. In R. S. Feldman, Psychology and your Life (p. 456). New York. Schultz, D. P. (2011).

A History Of Modern Psychology. In D. P. Schultz, A History Of Modern Psychology.