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Max Wertheimer

Max Wertheimer

Max Wertheimer was a well-known psychologist. He was born in Prague on April 15th, 1880. He was famous as one of the founding members of Gestalt psychology. He opened his eyes in am extremely intellectual family receiving his early education from home where he took part in educational and political discussions with his parents. His father was an educationist by profession and his mother had received her doctorate degree from University of Wurzburg. Max Wertheimer studied at the Psychological Institute at University of Frankfurt where he made an observation on flashing lights at a railway station to study the illusion created by train movement. He had also worked as a professor at the University of Frankfurt where he taught for several years. He migrated to United States in 1933, where he worked as a professor at the New York School for Social Research in New York City. He taught at the school for a period of ten years. It was due to his remarkable academic skills and efforts that New York schools became one of the top notch schools of psychology in the beginning period of twentieth century.

Max Wertheimer was one of the founding members of Gestalt psychology. According to his theory on Gestalt psychology, “There are wholes, the behavior of which is not determined by that of their individual elements, but where the part-processes are themselves determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole. It is the hope of Gestalt theory to determine the nature of such wholes.” He developed an interest in studying perception at the age of 30 when he viewed a stroboscope at a children’s toy store. This evoked his interest in theories relating to perception. The theory on Gestalt psychology is the basis on which human beings understand and react to the world around them. He wrote one of the best books on psychology entitled as “Productive Thinking.” This book was later published by his son, Micheal Wertheimer, who was an accomplished psychologist, himself.

Max Wertheimer was the pioneer of Gestalt psychology. It is due to this prestige that he exercised huge influence over other facets of psychology involving the theories of perception, sensation and experimental psychology. One of the well-known psychologist Solomon Asch wrote, “thinking of Max Wertheimer has penetrated into nearly every region of psychological inquiry and has left a permanent impress on the minds of psychologists and on their daily work. The consequences have been far-reaching in the work of the last three decades, and are likely to expand in the future.” The formation of Gestalt psychology was due to the reaction towards structuralist school of thought. Structuralism focused on disintegrating mental thoughts and processes into small parts whereas Gestalt psychology focuses on mental processes and thoughts as a whole so the holistic approach was adopted by Gestalt psychology. The Gestalt school of psychology founded by Max Wertheimer gave emergence to Gestalt laws of perceptual organization. These laws explains that how insignificant and small objects are joined together to make larger objects. Max Wertheimer gave the field of psychology one of his best works. He died on October 12th, 1943.


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