Topics: Psychology, Gestalt psychology, Scientific method Pages: 8 (2454 words) Published: July 13, 2012



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What Is Psychology?
What is psychology? There are many misconceptions created by television and movies today, but the basic answer is that psychology is both an applied and academic science that studies the human mind and behavior. No matter what area of psychology you refer to, research in psychology seeks to understand and explain thought, emotion, and behavior. Psychology is applied to individuals via mental health treatment, performance enhancement, self-help, ergonomics, and many other areas affecting health and daily life.

Psychology can be defined as the scientific study of behavior rand mental processor.The word "psychology" comes from the Greek word psyche eaning"breath, spirit, soul", and the Greek word logia meaning the study of something.

According to Medilexicon's medical dictionary, psychology is "The profession (clinical psychology),scholarly discipline(academic psychology), and science (research psychology) concerned with the behavior of humans and animals, and related mental and physiologic processes."

Max Wertheimer was born in Prague on April 15, 1880. His father was an educator and served as the director of a local school in addition to teaching. Max studied law for more than two years, but decided he preferred philosophy. He left to study in Berlin, where he took classes from Stumpf, then got his doctoral degree (summa cum laude) from Külpe and the University of Würzburg in 1904. In 1910, he went to the University of Frankfurt’s Psychological Institute. While on vacation that same year, he became interested in the perceptions he experienced on a train. While stopped at the station, he bought a toy stroboscope -- a spinning drum with slots to look through and pictures on the inside, sort of a primitive movie machine or sophisticated flip book. At Frankfurt, his former teacher Friedrich Schumann, now there as well, gave him the use of a tachistoscope to study the effect. His first subjects were two younger assistants, Wolfgang Köhler and Kurt Koffka. They would become his lifelong partners. Max Wertheimer published his seminal paper in 1912: "Experimental Studies of the Perception of Movement." That year, he was offered a lectureship at the University of Frankfurt. In 1916, he moved to Berlin, and in 1922 was made an assistant professor there. In 1925, he came back to Frankfurt, this time as a professor. In 1933, he moved to the United States to escape the troubles in Germany. The next year, he began teaching at the New School for Social Research in New York City. While there, he wrote his best known book, Productive Thinking, which was published posthumously by his son, Michael Wertheimer, a successful psychologist in his own right. He died October 12, 1943 of a coronary embolism at his home in New York.


The Gestalt psychologists’ primary interest was perception, and they believed that perceptual experiences depend on the patterns formed by stimuli and on the organization of experience. What we actually see is related to the background against which an object appears, as well as to other aspects of the overall pattern of stimulation. The whole is different from the sum of its parts, because the whole depends on the relationships among the parts.

Among the key interest of Gestalt psychologists were the perception of motion, how people judge size, and the appearance of colours under changes in illumination. These interest led them to a number of perception-centered interpretations of learning, memory, and problem solving that helped lay the groundwork for current research in cognitive psychology. Plus, they saw the process of imposing meaning and structure on incoming stimuli as automatic and outside conscious awareness, a Gestalt view that continue to infuse contemporary research on social cognition to this day.


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