German Gestalt Psychologists: Lewin and Köhler

Kurt Lewin's videos on psychological fields: Toddlers trying to sit on an attractive stone

Vygotsky wrote, "Lewin's demonstration of the great difficulty a small child has in realizing that he must first turn his back to a stone in order to sit on it illustrates the extent to which a very young child is bound in every action by situational constrains. It is hard to imagine a greater contrast to Lewin's experiment showing the situational constraints on activity than what we observe in play. It is here that the child learns to act in a cognitive, rather than an externally visual, realm by relying on internal tendencies and motives and not on incentives supplied by external things. A study by Lewin on the motivating nature of things for a very young child concludes that 'things' dictate to the child what he must do: a door demands to be opened and closed, a staircase to be climbed, a bell to be rung. In short, things have such an inherent motivating force with respect to a very young child's actions and so extensively to determine the child's behavior that Lewin arrived at the notion of creating a psychological topology: he expressed mathematically the trajectory of the child's movements in a field according to the distribution of things with varying attracting or repelling forces." (Vygotsky, 1978, Mind in Society, p. 96)

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Hannahs Versuch (Hannah's Trial)
Hannah is one year and seven months old. The stone has a positive valence in the momentary living space of the child. The child is attracted by the stone. In order to sit down, the child has to turn around, that is away from the goal. This detour to reach the goal is extremely difficult for children.

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Han's Erfolg (Han's success)
Hans solves the problem in a smart fashion. He does not lose sight of his goal.

Wolfgang Köhler's experiments on ape's intelligence

Köhler, W. (1973). The mentality of apes. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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Kisten-Einzelversuch (boxes individual trials)
Today's exercise does not show any direct signs of of insightful behavior. Koehler's exact observations during the first few trials of the animals, however, showed this very clearly.

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Kisten-Gruppenversuch (boxes group trial)
If you look closely, you can see first signs of cooperative behavior in using tools.

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Doppelstockversuch (not sure, I think it is supposed to mean "two stick trial")
This film was taken one months after the first successful two stick trial by Sultan. We can see several discrete trials separated by pauses.

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