Gestalt psychology. Integrity of images of consciousness - History of psychology

Gestalt psychology. Integrity of images of consciousness

The second direction of psychology, along with psychoanalysis, which has exerted and influences the public understanding of psychic phenomena, has become Gestalt psychology.

The history of this trend is associated with the publication of the work of Max Wertheimer (1880-1943) "Experimental studies of motion perception" (1912), in which the habitual notion of the presence of separate elements in the act of perception was questioned. In the experiments, the subject was consistently presented with two light stimuli (one vertical or inclined strip (A), the other horizontal (B) .With a considerable time interval between A and B, both stimuli that follow one after the other are visible.With a very rapid change of stimuli, angle, at average speed they saw how the first one - inclined or vertical - the line moves to a horizontal position.This apparent movement could not be distinguished from the actual movement even with a special instrument The very fact of the apparent movement was not new, Wertheimer called this perception a fi-phenomenon, he introduced a special term to distinguish the uniqueness of this phenomenon, its irreducibility (contrary to the opinion generally accepted in that epoch) to the sum of the sensations of irritation at first of certain retinal points, and then Wertheimer saw the meaning of his experiments in refuting the dominant psychological doctrine: in the structure of consciousness, holistic images that are indivisible to sensory primary elements were found.

Wertheimer became one of the founders of the Gestalt psychology school, the main principle of which was the focus on the study of the integral structure of the object of consciousness, not explained as a simple sum of its parts. He extended the principles of Gestalt psychology to thinking, interpreting it as a process of successively changing different types of vision of the situation under the impact of the task. These ideas were set forth by him in the book "Productive thinking".

A Berlin school of gestalt psychology was formed around the scientist, and especially in the 1920s, in Berlin, including K. Koffka, V. Kehler, K. Levin (their work will be discussed below). Her research covered perception, thinking, needs, affects, will.

Gestalt psychologists came up with a new understanding of the subject and method of psychology: it is important to start with a naive picture of the world, to study experiences, phenomena as they are, to study an experience that has not been analyzed. It was believed that one of the main mistakes of traditional psychology was that it divided the structure of consciousness into elements, thus depriving it of essential properties.

The whole can not be decomposed into elements, since in that case it ceases to exist. It can not be described by enumeration of elements, it should be treated as such. The direct naive experience does not give us individual colors, colorful dots, individual sounds, individual smells, but it represents objects, things that have colors, shapes, they sound, they make smells.

The Gestaltists criticized the method of analytical introspection. They believed that analysis is an extension, initially perception gives a holistic picture. Analytical introspection was opposed to the phenomenological method, aimed at a direct and natural description by the observer of the content of his perception, his experience. From the very beginning Gestalt psychologists rejected the thesis about the origin of perception from sensations, declared the sensation "fiction, created in psychological writings and laboratories". The thesis of the original integrity, the structural organization of the perception process was expressed by Wertheimer: "There are complex entities in which the properties of the whole can not be derived from the properties of individual parts and their compounds, but where, on the contrary, what happens to any part of the complex the whole, is determined by the internal laws of the structure of the whole. Gestalt psychology is just that. "

In contrast to introspective psychology, the subjects were required to describe the object of perception not as they know it, but as they see it at the moment.

In his studies of thinking, Wertheimer criticized associative theory and traditional logic. In connection with the criticism of the associative concept, he analyzed the role of past experience in thinking. The scientist had to specifically explain his position on this issue, because "... there are still psychologists who, completely unaware of Gestalt theory, believe that she underestimates the role of the past experience." The main question is not whether past experience really plays a role, but whether it's experience - blind connections or structural understanding followed by meaningful transfer, and also how we use past experience: through external playback or through structural requirements, its functional correspondence to this situation

Many representatives of Gestalt psychology paid considerable attention to the problem of the child's mental development, since in the study of the development of mental functions they saw evidence of the correctness of their theory.

The leading mental process, which actually determines the level of development of the child's psyche, from the point of view of the gestaltists, is perception. It is on how the child perceives the world, these scientists have proved, his behavior and understanding of the situation depends.

One of the researchers of the development of gestalt in children was Kurt Koffka (1886 1941).

The process of mental development, from the point of view of gestalt psychology, was divided into two independent and parallel processes - maturation and training. Koffka emphasized their independence, proving that in the process of development training can outrun maturation, and may lag behind it, although more often they run parallel to each other, creating the illusion of interdependence. However, learning can not accelerate the process of maturation and differentiation of gestalt, and the maturation process does not accelerate learning.

Studies of the development of perception in children, conducted in the laboratory of Koffki, showed that the child has a set of vague and not very adequate images of the external world. Gradually, in the process of life, these images differentiate and become more accurate. Thus, newborn children have a vague image of a man whose gestalt includes both voice, face, hair, and characteristic movements. Therefore, a small child of one or two months may not even recognize a close adult, if he changes his hair or changes his habitual clothes to a stranger. However, by the end of the first half of the year this vague image has been fragmented, turning into a series of clear images: a face in which the separate gestalt of the eye, mouth, hair appears, and images of the voice and the body appear.

Koffka formulated one of the laws of perception, which was called "transduction." This law argued that children perceive not the colors themselves, but their relationships.


The same transition from the grasp of the general situation to its differentiation occurs in intellectual development as well, Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Köhler argued (1887-1967). He believed that learning leads to the formation of a new structure and, consequently, to a different perception and awareness of the situation. At the moment when phenomena enter into another situation, they acquire a new function. This awareness of new combinations and new functions of objects and is the formation of a new gestalt, whose awareness is the essence of thinking. Köhler called this process "restructuring the gestalt" and believed that it happens instantly and does not depend on the past experience of the subject. In order to emphasize the instantaneous, rather than extended in time character of thinking, Kohler gave this restructuring moment the name "insight", i.e. insight, discretion, sudden understanding.

Koehler conducted an experiment in which children were asked to get a typewriter located high on the cabinet. In order to get it, you had to use different things - a ladder, a box, a chair. It turned out that if there was a ladder in the room, the children quickly solved the proposed task. It was more difficult if you had to guess to use the box. But the greatest difficulty caused the option when the room had no other items, except for the chair, which had to be removed from the table and used as a stand. Köhler explained these results by the fact that the ladder from the very beginning is realized functionally as an object, helping to get something high. Therefore, its inclusion in the gestalt with the cabinet does not represent a difficulty for the child. Turning on the box already needs some permutation, since the box can be recognized in several functions. As for the chair, he is realized by the child not in itself, but already included in another gestalt - with a table with which he presents the child as one whole. Therefore, to solve this problem, children must first break the holistic image of the "table-chair" for two, and then the chair is connected to the cabinet in a new image, realizing its new functional role.

The concept of the insight became the key in Gestalt psychology. He was given a universal character. It became the basis for the gestaltistic explanation of adaptive behaviors that behaviourists attributed to the principle of "trial, error and random success."

Insight meant for Gestaltists a transition to a new cognitive, image structure, accordingly, which immediately changes the nature of adaptive reactions. Primary understanding (shift in the figurative "field"), a secondary-motor adaptation (reorganization in the performing links of the action).

Considering the problem of the whole and the part, Gestaltism defended the idea of ​​wholeness, putting a lot of energy on the struggle with "atomistic" representations of consciousness and behavior.

Gestaltism, following an introspective tradition, considered the psychological phenomena directly experienced by the subject to be the only psychological facts. Feeling incompatibility of this tradition with the natural-science approach, the Gestaltists tried to relate the phenomenal world to the real, physical.

Koehler and his associates imagined that the principle of gestalt - the same for different orders of phenomena - would allow a new solution to the psychophysical problem, bringing the consciousness in line with the physical world and at the same time not depriving it of its own value. This solution was expressed in the concept of isomorphism.

Isomorphism assumes that the elements and their relationships in one system are in one-to-one correspondence with the elements and their relations in the other. Physiological and psychological systems, according to the gestaltist hypothesis, are isomorphic to each other (just as a topographic map corresponds to the terrain).

1920's. They were marked by serious experimental achievements of Gestalt psychology. They concerned mainly the processes of perception, moreover, the visual. A number of laws of gestalt were proposed (there were 114 of them). These included, in particular, the transposition (the reaction is not to individual stimuli, but to their ratio) and "figure and background."

The principle of transposition illustrates the following model experiment conducted by Koehler on chickens, in which differentiation of two shades of gray was developed. The hens learned to peck the grains scattered on a light square, distinguishing it from the nearby dark. In the control experiment, that square, which served as a positive stimulus, turned out to be next to an even lighter square. Chickens chose this last. They, thus, reacted not to absolute lightness, but to the ratio "light-lighter"). Their reaction, according to Kohler, was determined by the law of "transposition."

Clear e. Ruby (1886-1951) phenomenon of the "figure and background" (see below) took an honorable place among the basic laws of gestalt.

The Gestaltists were inspired by the idea of ​​transforming psychology into an exact science, strictly following the general standards of natural science.

Let's consider the basic ideas and positions of Gestalt psychology as a psychological school.

1. The main setting of Gestalt psychology is the principle of integrity in the understanding of phenomena and phenomena of consciousness and psyche.

2. The principle of integrity allows us to consider consciousness from the point of view of the presence in it of integral entities (gestalt), which are not decomposable into sensory primary elements, i.e. mental images are not complexes of sensations.

3. Facts of consciousness should be considered as the only psychic reality.

4. Consciousness has an activity essence: it actively and through certain actions builds its images of the external world, relying on the initially existing structures - gestalt.

5. Consciousness is understood as a kind of dynamic whole, the "&" field, each point of which interacts with all the others.

6. The unit of analysis of this field (ie consciousness) is the gestalt, defined as an integral image structure, not reducible to the sum of its constituent sensations.

7. The method of studying the gestalt of consciousness is a phenomenological method, understood as an unbiased, objective and direct observation and description of the content of its perception.

8. Perception can not come from sensations, since the latter is a fiction, i.e. does not exist realistically.

9. Visual perception has its own patterns, which ensure the grouping of individual elements of the physical world into integral gestalt:

• apperception (dependence of perception on past experience, on the general content of a person's mental activity);

• the interaction of the figure and the background (when any visual field is divided into a figure that is different in design, brightness, clarity, and it is perceived as the main content of the field, and the background, which is not so bright, amorphous, but precisely because of the background figure and is perceived with such clarity);

• the integrity and structure of perception (a person perceives objects in the visible field not individually, but all together as a whole);

• Pregnancy (striving for simplicity and orderliness of perception);

• the constancy of perception (the constancy of the image of an object, despite the change in the conditions of its perception);

• The phenomenon of "proximity" (the tendency to unite elements that are contiguous in time and space);

• The phenomenon of closures (tendencies to fill the gaps between the elements of the perceived figure).

10. Perception is the leading mental process that determines the level of development of the psyche. Specificity of perception provides features of the child's behavior and understanding of specific situations.

11. The process of forming perceptions occurs gradually, through the dynamic complication of existing primitive and vague images and the formation of increasingly complex structures, as well as the establishment of relationships between these structures (in the process of vital activity, the image and forms of perception become more complex and differentiated).

12. Thinking can not be considered as a set of skills, formed by trial and error.

13. Thinking is described as the process of solving a problem, which is carried out through the structuring of the field. This means that those elements of the field that previously had no connection with each other begin to unite to solve the problem or task.

14. The condition of this structuring, aimed at rejecting habitual stereotypes, is the so-called insight - sudden insight, or awareness.

15. Insight, i.e. awareness of the whole structure of activities to solve the task, is key to understanding thinking. Moreover, in the process of insight happening instantly, past experience definitely plays no role. Therefore, thinking is an act of "here and now". and is in no way connected with the accumulation of data from past experience by trial and error.

The German psychologist Gestaltist Kurt Levin (1890-1947), in contrast to his colleagues in the school, directed his scientific interest in studying the problems of the individual: her needs, will, emotional affective sphere, arguing that any human activity - an act, thinking, memory - is fundamentally and regulated by intention or need.

The theory of Levin developed under the influence of the successes of the exact sciences - physics, mathematics. The beginning of XX century. It was marked by discoveries in field physics, atomic physics, and biology. Having become interested in psychology at the university, Levin also tried to introduce the accuracy and rigor of the experiment into this science, making it an objective and experimental one.

His theory of personality Levin gave the name "theory of the psychological field". He proceeded from the fact that the personality lives and develops in the psychological field of the objects surrounding it, each of which has a certain charge (valence) associated with the need of the individual. Levin distinguished two kinds of needs - biological and social (quasi-needs).

Levin believed that the course of activity is entirely reduced to a specific set of conditions existing at the moment the field. The concept of the field covers both external (environment) factors and internal (subject) situation. The main theses put forward by Levin are as follows:

1) the analysis of behavior must proceed from this situation, i.e. from the understanding of those phenomena that surround the subject and are his field

2) at the heart of any behavior lie some forces that affect a person in such a way that they form a tension in him that requires a discharge. These forces are understood as needs that can be both biological and social, and the relaxation of tension caused by these forces leads to the satisfaction of the need;

3) the psychological field of the individual always has positively and negatively charged phenomena, or things, and these charges are conditioned by the relation of the phenomenon to the need: the correspondence of the phenomenon of actual need leads to its positive infectiousness and makes it desirable, and the nonconformity causes its negative infection,

4) in the structure of the personality there is a hierarchical relationship of needs with each other and their active interaction, which enables a person to build competent communication, making his behavior more flexible, compromise, and solve emerging conflicts;

5) Behavior is affected only by what is happening here and now: past and future events are only effective as something actually remembered or anticipated (they can influence behavior, but only in the situation of actual actual action, in this case recalling or anticipating );

6) Demand is discharged in a situation that is defined as a psychological field. At the same time, the unity of the field and the environment is noted on the basis of the interaction of the need and the phenomenon; and the purpose of this interaction is to discharge the voltage created by the need;

7) The scheme satisfaction of the need is this: in the psychological zero of the individual there is a need that determines the stress, which requires a discharge. The phenomena arising in the field that originally came there from the environment, contribute or do not contribute to the discharge of this tension, depending on what charge - positive or negative - they have in relation to this need. If the phenomenon has a positive charge, then it helps to relieve the voltage that was caused by the need, but if the phenomenon has a negative charge, then there is no discharge of tension, the need is not satisfied, the search in the field of the corresponding phenomenon continues;

8) The memorization processes are subject to the laws of integral gestalt, one of which is the assertion that the completed actions (gestalt) are not kept in consciousness and are moved to the background, while the unfinished actions remain in the field of consciousness and are remembered right up to their completion. For example, the waiter remembers exactly the amount of the paid account, since for him this gestalt is not completed, but once the bill is paid (the action is completed), he immediately forgets the amount. This statement was called the "Zeigarnik effect" (but the name of Lenin's apprentice, who conducted experiments in this field);

9) the thesis of the psychological unity of the field of the individual and his environment extends to the social component of behavior. A group is understood as a single dynamic whole with a set of components, by which each individual is meant. Thus, the schemes of the work of an individual field are transferred to an understanding of the work of the group, which also has its own psychological field. In line with this trend, Levin developed the theory of group dynamics, asserting that the group has its own dynamic laws, and the individuals making up this group are interdependent, and changing one part of the group leads to changes in its other part. Moreover, the interaction of the group and the individual occurs according to the same law: a change in the group provokes changes in the behavior and internal structure of the individual and, conversely, the internal changes that occur in the individual cause similar processes in the group.

In one of Levine's studies, children were asked to perform a specific task, for example, to help an adult wash dishes or clean the room. As a reward, the child received a prize that was significant to him. Therefore, all children cherished the opportunity to fulfill the task. In the control experiment, an adult invited a child to help him, but at the time the child came, it turned out that someone had already washed all the dishes. Children, as a rule, were upset, especially if they were told that they were ahead of someone from their peers. Frequent were aggressive statements about possible competitors. At this point, the experimenter proposed to perform another task, implying that it is also significant. Most of the children switched instantly. There was a relaxation of resentment and aggression in a new kind of activity. However, some children could not quickly form a new need and adapt to the new situation, and therefore their anxiety and aggressiveness increased.

Levin's research proved that not only the current situation, but also its anticipation, objects existing only in the mind of a person can determine its activity. The presence of such ideal motives of behavior allows a person to overcome the direct influence of the field, surrounding objects, "get over the field", as Levin wrote. This behavior, he called strong-willed, in contrast to the field, which occurs under the influence of immediate immediate environment. Thus, Levin came to the important for him concept of time perspective, which determines the behavior of a person in the life space and is the basis of his holistic perception of himself, his past and future.

The system of educational methods, in particular punishments and rewards, is of great importance for the formation of the child's personality. Levin believed that when punished for non-fulfillment of an unpleasant act for a child, children get into a situation of frustration, because they are between two barriers (objects with negative valence). In order for the discharge to occur, the child can either accept punishment, or perform an unpleasant task. However, it is much easier for him to try to get out of the field (albeit in an ideal plan, in terms of fantasy). Therefore, the penal system, from the point of view of Levin, does not contribute to the development of volitional behavior, but only increases the intensity and aggressiveness of children. A more positive incentive system, because in this case, behind the barrier, ie. for an object with negative valence, follows an object that causes positive emotions. However, the optimal system is a system in which children are given the opportunity to build a temporary perspective in order to remove the barriers of the given field.

The Levin approach has two points. First, he moved from the notion that the energy of the motive is closed within the organism, to the concept of the system "organism-environment". The individual and his entourage emerged as an inseparable dynamic whole. Secondly, in contrast to the treatment of motivation as a biologically predetermined constant, Levin believed that motivational tension can be created both by the individual himself and by other people (for example, an experimenter who suggests an individual to perform the task). Thus, behind the motivation recognized the psychological status itself. It did not boil down to biological needs.

This opened the way to new methods of studying motivation, in particular the level of claims of personality, determined by the degree of difficulty of the goal to which it seeks. The level of claims was established by the subject himself, who makes the decision to tackle the task of a different degree of difficulty than that already performed by him (for which he received an appropriate evaluation from the experimenter). According to his reaction to the success or failure associated with the fulfillment of a new task and subsequent elections (when he chooses either more difficult or, on the contrary, easier tasks), the dynamics of the level of claims is determined. These experiments made it possible to subject to experimental analysis a number of important psychological phenomena: decision making, reaction to success and failure, behavior in a conflict situation.

Levin showed the need for not only a holistic, but adequate understanding of yourself as a person. The development of such concepts as the level of claims and the "affect of inadequacy", which manifests itself in attempts to prove to a person the incorrectness of his ideas about himself, played a huge role in the psychology of the individual, in understanding the causes of deviant behavior. Levin stressed that the negative impact on behavior has both an overestimated and underestimated level of claims: in either case, the possibility of establishing a stable equilibrium with the environment is disrupted.

The discovery of a temporary perspective and level of claims in many respects brought Levin closer to Adler and with humanistic psychology, which also supported thoughts about the importance of preserving an integral personality, about the need for a person to comprehend the structure of his personality. The similarity of these concepts, drawn by scientists from different schools and directions, speaks about the relevance of this problem, that, realizing the influence of the unconscious on behavior, humanity understands the need to draw a line between man and other living beings, to understand not only the reasons for his aggressiveness, cruelty , voluptuousness (which excellently explained and psychoanalysis), but also the basis of his morality, kindness, culture. Of great importance was the desire in the new world, after the Second World War, which demonstrated the fragility of man, to overcome the existing sense of the interchangeability of people, to prove that people are integral, unique systems, that each person carries within itself an inner world.

Levin presented his theoretical views in the books "Dynamic Theory of Personality" and "Principles of topological psychology". He initiated the development of a direction called "group dynamics". The essence of the group, - noted Levin, - is not the similarity or difference of all members, but their interdependence. A group can be described as a dynamic integer & quot ;. This means that changes in the state of one part change the states of any other. Levin viewed the individual as part of the whole, namely, the group, as a convinced gestaltist.

In the US, Levin dealt with problems of group differentiation, typology of communication styles. He describes the most common styles of communication (democratic, authoritarian, liberal), as well as the study of conditions conducive to the allocation of leaders, stars and outcasts in groups.

The significance of Levin's field theory is that, firstly, he managed to expand the understanding of the organism from its individual manifestations, closed inside of itself, to interaction in the field "organism-environment", where the individual and his environment act in inseparable connection with each other and are treated as a single whole. Secondly, the understanding of the very essence of motivation, which now appears to be not biologically predetermined and unchanged, but experiencing active influences from other people in the field, and correspondingly having a biological and powerful social nature, is changed.

The studies of group dynamics conducted by Levin allowed him to put forward a number of practical ideas about the principles by which such group phenomena, such as leadership, rejection, the peculiarities of intra-group conflicts and communications, are formed. These studies have seriously influenced the many directions and schools that have emerged along the lines of social psychology studying the interaction of the individual and the group.

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