Gestalt psychology is a theoretical framework developed by a German psychologist called Max Wertheimer. The main principle of the theory is that human mind views things as a whole instead of their small parts. It posits that humans do not focus on simple components when giving their views about the world. Instead, they look at things as a whole. The concept supports the law of simplicity, which suggests that each stimulus is perceived in its simplest form.
Its values are based on the idea that a whole view of an object is better than the view of constituent elements of the object. When the mind has a whole view of something, it develops a greater meaning than when it looks at its individual parts. For instance, it is more meaningful to view a picture in its entirety than viewing its components such as canvas, paint, colors and brush. A cognitive process can only take place when an individual view an object as a whole (Gadjev, 2014). When trying to comprehend individual parts of something, the mind will jump into viewing the entire thing.
Wertheimer developed the theory of Gestalt psychology as a partial response to the concept of structuralism, which tends to break psychological aspects into small parts. However, the position developed by the Gestalt psychologists is that perceiving something in its totality is greater than summing its constituents (Holthaus & Steffek, 2015).
A result investigated the application of the sense of touch in grouping elements using similarity and proximity as the main principles of Gestalt psychology. It was discovered that similarity between constituent elements of an object influences the grouping process. In addition, both similarity and proximity are applicable for visual and haptic grouping (Carlson & Heth, 2010).
Identifying Personal Assumptions
Biology is an important aspect of psychology because it helps to understand functionality of hormones, nervous system, and brain, and the way they influence human behavior. Through the study of genetics, it is possible to study the behavioral aspects inherited from parents. Humans and animals still share functionality of brain, nervous systems, and hormones (Holthaus & Steffek, 2015). Psychologists used the idea to conduct a comparative analysis between animals and human to understand human behavior.
When other factors remain unchanged, humans are neutral. However, the question of being bad or good is triggered by the concept of survival, which is the main influence on human’s life. When an individual’s life is threatened, a person can do anything to overcome the challenge. People tend to interfere with the normal path of life to fulfill their desires and in the process, they are considered bad. It is their feelings, which motivate them before thinking of the aftermath (Carlson & Heth, 2010). The concept of free will does not exist in the human realm because of the above influence.
The behavior of a person is influenced both by the experiences and by genetics. While nature controls inherent human traits, the nurture tends to influence the general behavior of humans. The influence of nurture can vary while nature depends on the genetics of a person. To answer the questions related to human being, it is important to relate their behavior to their genetics and environmental aspects because they influence one’s decisions and actions (Holthaus & Steffek, 2015).
The personal decision is based on the concept of functionalism suggesting that mental states are recognized by what they do but not by their structure. The influence that genetics and environment have on the brain will be seen from an individual’s behavior and not from the brain’s biological structure. It is possible to determine a person’s thoughts through their actions rather than trying to conceptualize their actions (Carlson & Heth, 2010).
Movement between the Schools of Thoughts
Before the emergence of experimental psychology, the concept of physiology was dominant. Physiology used scientific aspects to explain functions of various living systems. It used scientific means to explain chemical and physical functions of the body system. According to the theory, the body is composed of molecules, cells, organs and systems. All the components function in a coordinated manner to provide life and enhance human actions. After its introduction in the clinical realm by a French physician named Jean Fernel in the early sixteenth century, the knowledge of physiology spread across the world (Trumble, Jaeggi, & Gurven, 2015). Among the disciplines created within the concept is comparative physiology, which became dominant. Physiologists used comparative analysis between humans and other organisms to comprehend the human system. However, physiology only studies the body system without concerns about human thoughts and thinking patterns.
Researchers were curious about the thought patterns of human beings. Although physiology explained how the body systems helped in coordinating physical actions of humans, it could not explain how the function of body systems influences a person’s thoughts, perception, and behavior. It studied metabolism, respiration, skeletal, muscles, blood circulation and respiration (Holthaus & Steffek, 2015). Even though these systems assist humans to engage in physical actions, they do not influence a person’s decisions and perceptions. Experimental psychology as a concept explains how human’s mind works. It borrows some concepts from physiology. For instance, it relates the physical functionality of the body to human cognitive ability. Its main study elements include human perception, cognition, interpersonal relationships and brain among others. Similar to physiology, experimental psychology uses comparative methods between humans and other organisms to understand the human mind (Reyna, 2012). The experimental psychology narrows to the study of the nervous system and hormones.
Historical Contexts for Schools of Thoughts
The concept of functionalism was developed in the American context during the late nineteenth century. It was meant to oppose the then prevailing concept of structuralism, which was coined by a German named Edward Titchener. Before its invention, the society was based on the structuralism, which studied the processes involved in human thoughts. However, the approaches depended on experiments and involved many errors. The idea of explaining thoughts based on errors triggered other philosophers to introduce a more practical approach (Holthaus & Steffek, 2015). The Functionalists had greater concerns with the capability of the human mind than the processes involved in thinking. The movement wanted practical applications of research rather than theoretical explanations. Structuralism was based experiments that were marred by trials and inaccuracies. Therefore, it was difficult to create a comprehensive knowledge about human thoughts (Reyna, 2012). It relied on experiments that did not give expected results.
The development of a laboratory in the late 1890s at the University of Chicago concluded the integration between theory and application. The Functionalists attacked the previous theories for their failure to prove their claims. In his study of the concept of the reflex arc, John Dewey initiated Functionalism as the new school of thought that applied principles of psychology in practical situations (Gadjev, 2014). Even though Functionalism did not become a formal school of thought, it acted as a link between theoretical approaches to the practical application of theories. Instead of developing concerns about the anatomy of the human mind, it was concerned with its functions (Carlson & Heth, 2010). The ideas developed by the Functionalists would later evolve into the study of human behavior based on the functions of the mind. Through practical approaches, it was possible to assess the capability of an individual’s mind under different circumstances.
Accessing Assistance on the Doctorate Journey
The time spent during the doctorate learning provided an amazing experience. I experienced a significant change in the sense of identity and my views of the world. In the beginning, it was challenging to adjust the slowest pace of learning. I did not have the confidence to consult professors during the first few months. The situation was caused by my inability to work in a corporate environment where one interacts with people from various social and cultural backgrounds (Trumble et al., 2015).
I started developing confidence after I was assigned an assistant who helped me understand several things. As I developed a deep understanding of human psychology and development, I realized the need to interact with others. I started viewing different aspects of life as a chain of connections with multiple ways of developing comprehensive knowledge about the human psychology. Human thoughts are dynamics and learning about them is a fantastic experience (Dechenaux, Kovenock, & Sheremeta, 2012).
Among the theories used to explain the human mind, Functionalism struck me the most. It is because of its successful efforts in determining practical functions of the human brain. The concept criticized the previous school of thoughts that relied on experiments based on trials and inaccuracies. Functionalists believed in practical things. They suggest the need to determine capabilities of the brain instead of developing conceptualized analysis of its function (Holthaus & Steffek, 2015). I appreciated the argument presented by this school thought because of its practicality. People appreciate what they learn if those things have practical outcomes.
Carlson, R., & Heth, D. (2010). Psychology the Science of Behaviour. Ontario, CA: Pearson Education Canada.
Dechenaux, E., Kovenock, J., & Sheremeta, M. (2012). A survey of experimental research on contests, all-pay auctions and tournaments. Berlin, German: WZB.
Gadjev, I. (2014). Nature and nurture: Lamarck’s legacy. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 114(1), 242-247.
Holthaus, L., & Steffek, J. (2015). Experiments in international administration: The forgotten functionalism of James Arthur Salter. Review of International Studies, 42(01), 114-135.
Reyna, V. (2012). A new institutionism: Meaning, memory, and development in Fuzzy-Trace Theory. Judgment and Decision Making, 7(3), 332–359.
Trumble, C., Jaeggi, V., & Gurven, M. (2015). Evolving the neuroendocrine physiology of human and primate cooperation and collective action. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 370(1683), 201-215.