Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Gestalt Approach

Functions Of Thinking

The Gestalt Approach to perception emphasizes the search for meaningful patterns and interpretations in collected data or elements.

1. Reorganization
Similarly, the Gestalt approach to problem-solving emphasizes the role of perception and interpretation in finding solutions. According to the Gestalt principle of reorganization, the solution to a problem depends on perceiving new relationships among its elements. Many paper-and-pencil brain-easers are easily solved only when one eliminates assumptions about how lines must be drawn or how objects should be used.

2. Productive versus Reproductive Thinking
Gestalt theory also distinguishes between productive and reproductive thinking in problem solving. Productive thinking involves producing a new orgainziation of a problem's elements, as in the insight solutions of Koehler's chimpanzees. Reproductive thinking applies past solutions to new problems. For example, having once learned to "assemble" sticks to form a rake, a caged chimpanzee might next reproduce this strategy by stacking boxes in a cage to reach a goal, when each box by itself is too short to do the job.

3. Set Effects
One problem whith reproductive thinking can be the development of a set effect, a tendency to solve new problems by applying past habits and assumptions. A set effect can prevent one from perceiving a simpler solution than the familiar, tried-and-true but more cumbersome approach.
One type of set effect is functional fixedness, a perception that elements of a problem have fixed or inflexible functions and cannot be combined in new ways. For example, if you don't have a candle holder, how else can you safely prop up a lit candle? If you have aluminum foil handy, you can mold a sheet of it into a cuplike holder for a candle. But if your functional fixedness only allows you to think of aluminum foil as a covering or a wrapping, not a moldable substance, you will fail to find this solution.

Man can live the most self-fulfilling, creative, and emotionally satisfying life by intelligently organizing and disciplining his thinking.~ Dr Albert Ellis & Dr R. A. Harper

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