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The Gestaltists What you see is not just parts!. The Oppositionists Grew as a reaction against voluntarism, structuralism and behaviorism – Early 1910s.

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Presentation on theme: "The Gestaltists What you see is not just parts!. The Oppositionists Grew as a reaction against voluntarism, structuralism and behaviorism – Early 1910s."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Gestaltists What you see is not just parts!

2 The Oppositionists Grew as a reaction against voluntarism, structuralism and behaviorism – Early 1910s and 20s and Watsonian behaviorism is hot – Still quite a bit of structuralism around, as well – Thought were missing something: how we put together the whole – Emphasized NOT concentrating on parts

3 The Oppositionists Kurt Wertheimer – German – Phi phenomenon got him started Phi Phenomenon = apparent movement – Why interesting? Not easily explainable by examining the parts – Gestaltists: although psychological experiences result from sensory elements, these experiences are different from the sensory elements themselves – The phenomenological experience is different from the sum of the parts Gestaltists = Kantians – Organism adds something to experience that not contained in sensory data – That something = ORGANIZATION – Gestalt = configuratio or pattern

4 The Oppositionists Gestalists major point: behaviorists, structuralists, etc. all making same fatal error: attempting to divide up subject matter into elements Not reject introspectionist method, but rejected how deal with the data Phenomenologists: – Studies the meaningful, intact, mental events without dividing them up for further analysis – Studies the phenomenon, not the parts – Are wholistic, molar, subjective, nativistic, and cognitive

5 Lewins Field Theory Kurt Lewin ( ) – Theory of human motivation Human behavior determined by total number of psychological facts being experiences at that time – Psychological fact = anything which a person is conscious of – Life space = sum of all psychological facts Some psychological facts exert positive influence, some negative Totality or sum of these facts that determine behavior Important: must be conscious to be psychological fact – Thus: memories must be conscious – Behavior is dynamic because facts are dynamic – The field is always changing, but the whole determines the behaviora

6 Field Theory Used Field Theory from physics to apply to psychology – Field = dynamic, interrelated system – Any part of this system influences every other part – Gestalten = small fields – Perceived environment can = a field – Person = dynamic, interrelated system – What happens to a person influences whole person, not just one part

7 Nature versus Nurture Traditional behaviorists: – person is passive receiver of environment – Brain = switchboard processing experience Gestaltists gave more active role – Brain ACTS on incoming sensory information – Gives meaning and organization – Not learned, but innate – Is a physical system

8 Law of Pragnanz psychological organization wil always be as gooda s the controlling circumstances allow good = simple, complete, concise, symmetrical, harmonious Good figure, good perception, good memory = cannot be made more simple or organized through any perceptual shift

9 Gestalt Rules for Organization Gestalt = configuration Examine FIGURE versus GROUND – Figure = distinctive parts of array that you need to attend to – Ground = background Interested in how people determined figure vs. ground Total configuration critical: The WHOLE is GREATER than the SUM of its parts

10 Both of these figures have three elements. The figure on the left is called a __________; but the figure on the right is called a _____________.

11 Rules of Organization Proximity: things that are in proximity to one another belong together Similarity: things that are similar to one another are judges as belonging to that group Contrast: differences form edges or borders



14 Rules of Organization Good continuation: – Continuing a pattern makes sense – Otherwise, is a border or contrast – Number sequences, ordering and sets Closure: – Closure is a contrast or edge – Brings the figure to an end – Should be natural or we finish it!



17 AbcAbcAbcAbcAbcAbcAbcAb____

18 Dont you hate it when people dont finish their !

19 Rules of Organization Good Figure or Pragnanz – Nature is full of symmetry; we prefer symmetrical shapes and forms – Nonsense figures are changed to make sense – We finish a figure to make a sensible figure vs. ground Common fate: – Using the gestalt rules of organization to fix the figure – Make a sensible figure and ground



22 Perceptual Constancies Gestalt rules demonstrate perceptual constancies What we see depends on our experience and the situation What ground is the figure lying upon?


24 Perceptual Constancies When we get into an ambiguous situation: – We must alter our preconceived ideas – Use knowledge about the world + the information about the present scene – Thus make sense of the visual image We assume that the world stays constant: – People, animals and things stay the same size, color, shape – Thus, the relative brightness, color or shape is determined by the intensity of the object RELATIVE to other objects in the scene

25 We must make judgments about the world One object in comparison to another – Which is bigger? – Which if brighter or redder or louder? Use relationships within the image to determine size, color, shape, etc.



28 Visual Illusions Ambiguous figures – No clear figure versus ground – Must make a judgment using clues within the picture – Your own personal experience also plays a role Lets see some examples









37 Our abilities help us perceive some interesting phenomena: Perceived movement: – Must determine if YOU or the ground is moving – Feeling like your car is rolling backward when the other car moves slightly forward at a stop light Flicker fusion: ability to see movies as a moving picture, not a bunch of quick little pictures Phi phenomenon: jumping of a light back and forth


39 Dynamic Qualities Gestalt rules apply to all our senses – Audition, somatosensory, thermoregulation – Why is it funny that dry ice burns? Cross modalities, as well: – Consistencies and expectations across senses – Someone should look like they sound!

40 Dynamic Qualities Which of these is a Molumba and which is a Takete?

41 Dynamic Qualities Which is the cheerleader and which is the nerd? – Bertha – Jennifer Why is this important? – Names can influence how people think about you! – University of Chicago study: Traditional vs. African American names on resumes

42 Think Gestalt rules dont influence your everyday behavior?

43 Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe and the biran fguiers it out aynawy.

44 The brain and conscious experience Gestaltist solution to mind body problem – Behaviorists: ignored – Structuralists and voluntarists: epiphenomenalism: Contencts of mind vary passively as function of sensory experience Direct relation between body and ind Gestaltists: isomorphism between psychological experience and processes in brain – External stimulation causes reactions in brain – Experience those reactions as they occur in brain – Brain actively, not passively, transforms sensory stimulation Organizes and makes sense of info Simplifies, completes, etc. Brain does this before we are aware of it In innate process Why important? – Activities of brain correspond dynamically with content of thought – Brain actively transforms incoming sensory information, and it is transformed information that we are aware of! – Interestingly, neuroscience supports this idea

45 Subjective and objective reality What determines behavior – Not environment, because we dont perceive or are aware of raw environment – Must be consciousness or subjective reality – Geographical environment = objective or physical reality – Behavioral environment = psychological or subjective reality This has important implications – Gestalt rules alter our reality – So do values, beliefs, etc. – Each person has unique view of world – This view shapes how we interact (indeed, it shapes what we perceive) – Beliefs, then, have strong influence on behavior!

46 Critique Contributions: – Refuted both structuralism and simple behaviorism – Concepts of organization of physical/psychological experience – Rules of organization – Challenged rote learning models Criticisms – Never attained mainstream acceptance – Difficult model to test – In many ways, were right in terms of organizational rules and idea of whole versus parts

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