KOFFKA, KURT (1886-1941)


Koffka, the major spokesman for Gestalt psychology, received his psychological training at the University of Berlin and obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1908. Two years later he met Wolfgang Kohler in Frankfurt, where the two men were used as subjects by Max Wertheimer in pioneer studies that led to the Gestalt theory. Between 1911 and 1924 he taught at the University of Giessen, and after serving as visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin and at Cornell University, accepted a permanent position at Smith College.Wertheimer, Koffka and Kohler are considered the co-founders of Gestalt psychology. These three, together with Hans Gruhle and Kurt Goldstein, established the journal Psychologische Forschung in 1921, which remained the recognized voice of the movement until publication was discontinued in 1938. Koffka, however, was the most productive of the three men who introduced the theory. Between 1913 and 1921 he published a series of studies, Beitraege zur Psychologie Gestalt, reporting his experimental work on perception and its relation to movement. In 1921 he published a book entitled, in translation, The Growth of the Mind. His article “Perception: an Introduction to Gestalt Theory,” which appeared in the Psychological Bulletin in 1932, introduced the movement to American psychologists. During the years that followed, he and Kohler expounded the theory in many universities in this country.Koffka’s contributions to the Gestalt approach culminated in the publication of Principles of Gestalt Psychology in 1935. In this volume he not only explained the principles which had been discovered through experiments on perception, but showed that they were applicable to a wide range of phenomena, including memory and the learning process. Boring (1950) characterizes this work as “the only attempt at a complete systematic Gestalt psychology.” See GESTALT PSYCHOLOGY.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "KOFFKA, KURT (1886-1941)," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/koffka-kurt-1886-1941/ (accessed September 29, 2022).


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