Thesis: Koffka’s work in Psychology

Sample Thesis Paper

Before World War I, Koffka had been working with people with hearing impairment, and during the war he worked with the military, helping them to improve their sound localization techniques. He was promoted to the position of a professor, and had his own lab, where he conducted numerous experiments in the following years with his students. Koffka’s major work, published in 1921, was about gestalt theories and childhood developmental psychology, where he asserted that infants first view the world holistically and only later come to appreciate the sensations such as sights and sound separately. His ideas were well received well in the U.S. where he began to be invited as a guest lecturer at the Universities of Cornell and Wisconsin, and he published these theories in the paper The Growth of the Mind: An Introduction to Child Psychology (Koffka).

One of his well known concepts is the Muller-Lyer and Ponzo illusions. The Muller-Lyer is a picture of two parallel lines of equal lengths with arrows at both ends. The difference is that one line has both arrows pointing inwards and the other’s arrows point outwards. When viewers are asked to comment on the length of the lines, most pick out the one with arrows inwards as longer than the other. According to gestalt, our spatial perceptions make the brain view the line with arrows pointing out as limited, while the other one has the arms of the arrows extending beyond the line, giving it a longer look. A similar result is obtained from the Ponzo line illusion.

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