Gestalt theories in psychology have their roots in preceding philosophies of that discipline. One of the leading philosophers whose thinking delved into realms of the psychological models of it was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Since he served as chair of psychology at the Goethe University in Germany, it is save to assume that psychologist Max Wertheimer would have been familiar with his work. In looking at Goethe’s work we can see a clear transition to Wertheimer’s work by looking at his contributions, describing the models associated with him and their theoretical models in how they are used in psychology today.
Goethe was a contemporary of the late 18th century whereas Wertheimer made his contributions during the first half of the 19th century. Goethe was renowned for his fictional works, but also was active within scientific and philosophical circles. His work dealt with morphology and color theory, which as clear parallels to modern gestalt theory. Goethe’s work “Theory of Color” lays out the framework of his theory. The title to the work is misleading, as the work does not advance a particular theory but instead is more of a portrayal of particulars. (Literature Network, 2013)
Goethe had a reason for this, as he thought of colors in their own particular qualities rather than how there are perceived. His writing on the matter was sometimes poetic, “Colors are light’s suffering and joy.” (Goethe, 1840).
Wertheimer studied philosophy, which at the time was linked heavily with psychology. (Webship, 2013). He was also forced to flee his
Discuss the contributions that your selected theorist made to the field of learning and cognition.
Discuss the theoretical concepts associated with the model(s).
Wertheimer’s theories and models have their overlap in this sort of work, but unlike Goethe, he took that same vein of thinking and applied it to practical understandings as opposed to observations and musings. While Goethe studied the material objects involved, Wertheimer sought to explain what rules govern those parts and the wholes they compose cognitively.
He believed the structural laws of the whole govern the individual parts of the composition. The movement of Gestalt theory has many who are credited, but Wertheimer is seen historically as the ring leader and guide of the movement (G Westheimer, 1999).
Wertheimer wanted to understand the rules that governed pattern formation and what governs a pattern forming. He asked, “Are there principles for the kinds of resulting arrangements?” (G Westheimer, 1999). His studies on the matter concluded that, yes, the rules that govern the parts are found within the rules that govern the whole of an object, pattern or visual backdrop. He developed this theory in the 20s, but did not have testifying, which identified those governing laws until a decade later.
Describe the model(s) associated with your selected theorist.
His finding showed “Factor of Proximity” where people perceived objects that were nearer to them as more similar than if they were placed further apart. He also came up with “Factor of Similarity” in which similar objects were often grouped together.
Analyze the modern-day relevancy of the model(s), such as in media advertisements or education.
Wertheimer’s findings were put into practice in a surprising way. His work is still being used and tweaked in militaries all over the world for the production of camouflage. Artists were then employed to use these theories in order to create the camouflage that was based upon them.
Though Picasso and Wertheimer might have never known of each other, they were contemporaries, and it was Picasso that was doing similar work in the art world that distinguished whose from their constituent parts. (Behrens, 1979).
In camouflage it is important to blend in with a whole and not be seen as an individual part. Factories of proximity play decide whether or not camouflage was effectively used or not. Also factories of similarities matters in terms or groupings and configurations of not just the patterns on the individual camouflage, but of an entire unit.
The work of Max Wertheimer, along with others who are credited with the founding of Gestalt psychology (Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Kohler) are credited with far more than improving camouflage. Their modern day applications and uses are varied. Video game designers. There has even been a term coined in Internet forums, “Gestalt Game Design.” In a virtual world a video game engineer team works with a design team in order for the game to appear visually what is intended in the background for its playability. Decisions must be made that will cause what is a fictional and created world to appear as a real world so that a gamer player can have an immersive experience. Knowing under what laws a person’s perception operates under is important to design and interface that will achieve this goal.
Gestalt theory proposes to understand under what conditions patterns are perceived and what laws are in place to govern that perception. It hopes to understand the fundamental and cognitive structures in place. Video game designers either through direct knowledge or through the theoretical offspring of Wertheimer’s work take these considerations into mind when they masterminding the architecture to a game.
Even in fields like marketing and aviation, Gestalt theory opens doors of understanding to how the visual fields function in our minds. From it’s origins in philosophy and Wertheimer’s own start in philosophy, what was mere philosophical speculation has turned into practice world views that give insight into how to create products that function within the parameters of human perception.
Faust, Mephistopheles in, and perhaps Part I. "Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Biography and Works. Search Texts, Read Online. Discuss.." The Literature Network: Online classic literature, poems, and quotes. Essays & Summaries. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2013.
(1998). Gestalt Theory, Cubism and Camouflage. Gestalt Theory: Journal of the GTA, 20(1), 109-118.
Goethe, J. W. (1970). Theory of colours. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press.
Westheimer, G. (1999). Gestalt theory reconfigured: Max Wertheimer's anticipation of recent developments in visual neuroscience. Perception, 28, 5-15.