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Summary Article: Köhler, Wolfgang from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Estonian-born German psychologist, cofounder with Max Wertheimer and Kurt Koffka (1886–1941) of the Gestalt school of psychology. Based on his study of the behaviour of apes in a colony on Tenerife, he developed the controversial hypothesis that problem-solving is dependent on a process of insight – a concept central to Gestalt theory – rather than on trial-and-error learning, as was more commonly believed. He published his experiments and observations from this period in The Mentality of Apes 1925.

Köhler was appointed to the chair of psychology at Berlin 1921, largely on the basis of work done in the field of physics – which he believed to be vital to the future of psychology – but emigrated to the USA 1934. Other important works inspired by Gestalt principles include Gestalt Psychology 1929, The Place of Value in the World of Facts 1938, and Dynamics in Psychology 1940.

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