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Definition of GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY
: the study of perception and behavior from the standpoint of an individual's response to configurational wholes with stress on the uniformity of psychological and physiological events and rejection of analysis into discrete events of stimulus, percept, and response
: the study of perception and behavior from the standpoint of an individual's response to gestalten with stress on the uniformity of psychological and physiological events and rejection of analysis into discrete events of stimulus, percept, and response
Twentieth-century school of psychology that provided the foundation for the modern study of perception. The German term Gestalt, referring to how a thing has been put together (gestellt), is often translated as pattern or configuration in psychology. Its precepts, formulated as a reaction against the atomistic orientation of previous theories, emphasized that the whole of anything is different from the sum of its parts: organisms tend to perceive entire patterns or configurations rather than bits and pieces. The school emerged in Austria and Germany at the end of the 19th century and gained impetus through the works of Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka (1886–1941); its principles were later expanded by Kurt Lewin. A form of psychotherapy only loosely related to Gestalt principles and influenced by existentialism and phenomenology was developed by Frederick S. (Fritz) Perls (1893–1970) in the 1940s. Gestalt therapy directs the client toward appreciating the form, meaning, and value of his perceptions and actions.