What is the basis of Gestalt psychology

Gestalt psychology

Gestalt psychology, to be understood in summary as the Gestalt theory of the Berlin School and the holistic psychology of the Leipzig School, but not the Gestalt therapy according to Fritz Perls, which is based on the Gestalt theory only in the broadest sense. Gestalt psychology arose in the context of movement against the elementary dissection of psychological processes. The work "About Gestaltqualitäten", presented by Christian von Ehrenfels in 1890, in which he focuses on the holistic character of perceptual processes, e.g. using the example of Melodies draws attention, which are recognized even if they are set in a different key ("transposability"). A melody is "something else" than the sum of the individual tones. The main basis of the "Berlin School" around Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler, which had its heyday in the Weimar Republic and achieved international importance, was the experimental work presented by Wertheimer in Frankfurt in 1910 Phi phenomenon (Movement vision with alternately lit points). As further perception phenomena that cannot be explained solely from the physical stimulus basis, e.g. Figure-ground differentiations, Tilt figures and optical illusion examined. Over a hundred Gestalt laws, such as that Law of proximity, the Law of similair and the Tendencies towards shape closure, should explain the general organization of psychological perception. Basic assumptions of Gestalt psychology were later transferred to other areas such as thinking, acting and problem solving. The lasting contribution of the competing "Leipzig School" around Felix Krüger and Friedrich Sander, which, contrary to the "Berlin School", had served the Nazi regime, consists in the experimental investigation of perceptual processes in their development process (actual genesis).


Fitzek, H. & Salber, W. (1996). Gestalt psychology. History and practice. Darmstadt: Scientific Book Society.