Gestalt Theory


Gestalt psychology or theory is a school of thought that is responsible for observing the human mind and the behavior of the human being as a whole. In trying to make sense of the world around us, Gestalt psychology suggests that we shouldn’t just focus on every little component. Instead, our minds tend to perceive objects as part of a larger whole and as elements of more complex systems . This school of psychology played an important role in the modern development of the study of human sensation and perception.


What is Gestalt theory?

It is a current of modern philosophy that has representation as its meaning , which emerged in Germany and is based on the statement that the whole is always more than the sum of its parts.


What does Gestalt theory consist of?

The holistic thinking on which the theory is founded can be summarized in the statement that the whole is always more than the sum of its parts.  This phrase explains that all the principles of the theory of this current seek a way to discover the reasons why the human brain tends to interpret a set of different elements as a single message , and the way in which the mind is capable of group the information we receive into different mental categories that have been established by ourselves. According to Gestalt theory, the background nucleus is the whole and the differentindividual elements that compose it do not have any kind of importance or meaning by themselves. The school maintains that it is the mind that is responsible for configuring the elements that enter through the perception of memory.



The theory was born as a reaction to values ​​that were already established and grounded in psychoanalysis and behaviorism . It was born in the 1940s through the publication of the book ” Ego, Hunger and Aggression : A Review of Freud’s Theory and His Method” which was written by Fritz Perls and Laura Perls , for this reason it is considered that its creator It was Fritz Perls, a psychiatristJewish, although there were several people who influenced the theory. At the beginning, the therapy had the name and it was not intended to become a school. In 1951, in New York, he began to publicize the theory. In this year Gestalt Therapy is published, under the authorship of Fritz, Perls, Ralf Hefferline and Paul Goodman, in which the guidelines and theoretical bases of the theory were established .

Gestalt theory principles

Gestalt theory is based on the following principles:

  • Principle of pregnancy: use perceptual experience to adopt the simplest possible forms.
  • Principle of similarity: our mind groups similar elements into a single entity.
  • Principle of proximity: the elements are grouped when the parts of a whole receive the same stimulus.
  • Symmetry principle: symmetrical images are perceived as equal.
  • Principle of continuity: the details that have a pattern or direction are grouped together as part of a model.
  • Principle of simplicity: the individual organizes his perceptual fields with simple and regular features.
  • Principle of common direction: the elements that build a pattern in the same direction are perceived as a figure.
  • Principle of relation between figure and background: the brain cannot interpret a target as a figure at the same time.
  • Enclosure principle: the lines of a surface are better captured as a unit in the same circumstances.
  • Equality principle: there is a tendency to form groups with the elements that are equal.

Application of Gestalt theory in education

Gestalt theory is considered one of the most important contributions in the field of education through productive thinking . This position fundamentally highlights the form of understanding and the rules that govern the action and understanding of the different meanings. He looked for a way to show that students could learn better through rules rather than memorization . In this way, it is sought to obtain a vision of the whole in order to then be able to consider its different parts.


Among the main representatives of the theory we can mention Max Wertheimer , who was a German psychologist who carried out the first experiment of the theory. Wolfgang Köhler , was one of the main representatives and was the one who established the concept of insight learning . Kurt Koffka , German psychologist founder of the Gestalt school of psychology . Kurt Lewin, an American psychologist who conducted research on human behavior and specialized in group dynamics. Friedrich Solomon Perls, Jew.


An example of the theory is that before the way to teach and learn was sought first by knowing the letters of the alphabet, then the syllables and finally the words and phrases. Gestalt theory says that phrases must first be learned, and that they must then be decomposed into syllables to finally discover and learn the letters that form them.

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