Germplasmcontinuity Theory



GESCHWIND'S THEORY. The American behavioral neurologist Norman Geschwind (1926-1984) speculated that excessive intrauterine exposure to androgens inhibits development in the individual's thymus and left cerebral hemisphere; Geschwind attempted to explain why learning disabilities and left-handedness are associated with autoimmune disorders and, also, to explain why they are more prevalent in men than in women. Thus, according to Geschwind's theory, the brain's "architecture" and certain patterns of behavior (such as dyslexia) are related to exposure during fetal life, in particular, to high levels of the male hormone testosterone. See also LANGUAGE ACQUISITION THEORY; LAT-ERALITY THEORIES; MIND/MEN-TAL STATES, THEORIES OF; RIGHT-SHIFT THEORY; SPEECH THEORIES; WER-NICKE-GESCHWIND THEORY. REFERENCES

Geschwind, N., & Levitsky, W. (1968). Human brain: Left-right asymmetries in temporal speech region. Science, 161, 168-177. Geschwind, N. (1970). The organization of language and the brain. Science, 172, 940-945. Geschwind, N. (1974). Selected papers on language and the brain. Boston: Reidel.

Cerebral lateralization: Biological mechanisms, associations, and pathology. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press.


GESTALT THEORY/LAWS. = laws of perceptual organization. The German word

Gestalt may be translated into English as "form" or "configuration." Gestalt theory is an example of a "rationalist" (i.e., progressing from abstract ideas to interpretations and demonstrations of the phenomena under study) theory in psychology that was developed initially by the German psychologists Wolfgang Koh-ler (1887-1967), Kurt Lewin (1890-1947), Kurt Koffka (1886-1941), and Max Wertheimer (1880-1943). Forerunners of Gestalt psychology/theory were the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (17491832), the Austrian physicist/ philosopher/psychologist Ernst Mach (1838-1916), and the German philosopher Christian von Ehrenfels (1859-1932). However, Max Wertheimer is considered by many to be the official founder of Gestalt psychology. Gestalters - those who advocate the Gestaltist approach - were concerned originally with the predominant nature of perception, thinking, problem-solving processes (including "insight"), and the structure of psychological experience, without primary reference to learning phenomena (cf., shift of level principle - Koffka's speculation that when a change of circumstances alters the position of two stimuli on a continuum, the two tend to retain the same relation to each other; and rapid-change theory - holds that behavioral, cognitive, and emotional changes may be instantaneous or abrupt and permanent; in sociology, it is the notion that the status of older persons in previously static societies declines if there are sudden sociopolitical changes in those societies). Gestalters suggested that what was learned in a learning/memory context is a product of the laws of perceptual organization. They argued that traces of perceptual events are stored in memory and, because organizational laws determine the structuring of perception, those laws also determine the structure of what information is laid down in memory. The laws of perceptual organization, or laws of grouping-configuration, indicate the priority of perception in Gestalt theory and show how a perceiver groups together certain stimuli and, thereby, how one structures and interprets a visual field (cf., autochthonous laws - the innate understanding of perceptions or proper behavior that individuals obey without experience or instruction). A few of these subsidiary laws are: figure-ground, proximity, similarity, common direction/good continuation, continuity, inclusiveness, simplicity, and common fate (cf., eye-placement principle -discovered by the British-born American psychologist Christopher W. Tyler (1943- ), refers to a principle of composition in portrait painting that involves the artist's placement of one of the subject's eyes somewhere on the vertical axis running down the center of the frame; it is suggested that this is an unconscious behavior in portrait painters). The principle of figure-ground relationships refers to the contrast between the figure - the area of a visual stimulus that is the focus of attention and appears closest to the perceiver, such as letters printed on paper - and the ground - the area of the visual stimulus that recedes beyond the figure and constitutes the background upon which a figure is superimposed, such as the white paper upon which letters or symbols are printed [cf., the Liebmann effect - named after the German psychologist Susanne E. Liebmann (1897-1990) - states that as the luminosity of a colored figure increases, the contrast between the figure and the ground on which it lies begins to diminish and, if the figure is complex, it becomes simpler; when the figure-ground luminosities are equal, the figure cannot be distinguished from the ground; the law of surroundedness - where one figure surrounds another, the surrounding figure is likely to be seen as background and the enclosed figure as figure; and the successive contrast effect - the tendency of a sensation such as color, lightness, or warmth to induce the opposite sensation in a stimulus that follows it]. Sometimes, what is figure and what is ground in a given visual stimulus is ambiguous, where the perceiver may organize it in one way at a given time and then, a few seconds later, switch to seeing it another way (cf., the Schafer-Murphy effect - the alleged phenomenon that when participants are rewarded for seeing an ambiguous/reversible figure in one way, they are more likely to see it in that way in the future). The relevance of the principle of figure-ground relationships for learning theory is the notion that people learn primarily about the figure they focus in attention, rather than the background, and what becomes an important figure can be in fluenced by various factors (such as instructions given to human participants). In the context of learning/memory, it is emphasized that it is "perceptually interpreted" objects, not the raw stimuli themselves, that are learned. The law of proximity refers to the tendency for the perceiver to group together elements of a visual or auditory field based on their nearness/proximity to one another. The factor of proximity (cf., E. L. Thorndike's principle of belongingness) is used in the communication processes of reading, writing, or talking, as well as with relatively discrete, isolated, neutral, or meaningless stimuli. The law of similarity/resemblance states that items similar in respect to some feature (such as color, shape, texture) will tend to be grouped together by the perceiver (cf., law of equality - states that as the several components of a perceptual field become more similar, they will tend to be perceived as a unit). The similarity principle is utilized consistently when a person speaks or reads. For example, in the cocktail party effect it is possible to pick out and listen to a particular speaker against a noisy background because of the consistent voice quality of the speaker from one moment to another (cf., chatterbox effect - a tendency of some hydrocephalic patients to appear fluent in conversation, but they are unable to communicate meaningfully; also called cocktail-party conversationalism; such individuals fabricate incidents and events to hold the attention of listeners, but later are unable to recall what was discussed). The law of common direction/ good continuation/continuity refers to the perceiver's tendency to group together a set of points if some appear to continue or complete a "lawful" series or complete a simple curve. The law of simplicity (also called the precision law) states that, other things being equal, the perceiver will see the visual field as organized into simple, regular figures (called "good gestalts" of symmetry, regularity, and smoothness; also called the symmetry law). For example, figures containing "gaps" yield perceptions of closed, complete figures where the perceiver fills in the gap with the redundant, predictable extrapolation of the simplest description of the figure (this is referred to, also, as closure, in which closed areas or complete figures perceptually give more stability than unclosed areas or incomplete figures). The law of inclusiveness states that there is a tendency for one to perceive only the larger figure and not the smaller figure when a smaller figure is included/embedded in a larger figure. The law of common fate states that elements that move in the same direction will be perceived as belonging together and forming a figure. For example, an animal in the forest is hidden if its surface is covered with the same elements found in the background because its boundary is unclear: there is no basis for grouping the elements or spots on the animal as long as the animal is stationary and it remains well hidden. However, once it moves, the elements on the animal's surface will move together, and the animal's form is perceived quickly. A practical application of the laws of perceptual organization, one that is especially relevant to the law of common fate, is illustrated in the art of "camouflage" where a significant figure is buried or hidden by supplementing its lines, shape, color, and contours so that attention is defocused from the original shape. An additional, and more general, law called the law of pragnanz (meaning "compact and significant;" "good figure") was formulated, also, to describe the common features of the subsidiary laws of grouping. The law of pragnanz (also known as the law of eidotropics), similar to the law of simplicity, states that people have a tendency to see things in the simplest form possible (cf., law of good shape - states that people generally perceive stimulus units and patterns in a uniform and methodical manner). Consistent with the law of pragnanz is the Gestalt principle called the law of least action, which states that an organism tends to follow the course of action that requires the least effort or expended energy under prevailing conditions. In a personality-psychology context, course of action and energy expenditure can be influenced by the individual's personality characteristics so that an objectively easy course of action may be difficult for a person because of the amount of emotional investment required. The law of least action is called, also, the principle of least-energy expenditure and the least-effort principle. The German physicist and mathematician Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) formulated the mathematical foundation for the law of conservation of energy (cf., Sir William Hamilton's principle of least action/law of resistance/law of least constraint/law of least energy/law of greatest economy; Thorndike, 1907). Up until the appearance of Gestalt psychology and Gestalt theory in America in the late 1920s and the early 1930s, the traditional method of scientific analysis was to describe the parts of a complex phenomenon and arrive at the whole by adding up the discrete descriptions (cf., the and-summation hypothesis - the "reductionist" conjecture that wholes may be constructed by the mere addition of distinct parts, in contrast to the approach which states that elements becoming part of a whole lose their particular identity; the bundle hypothesis - the study of consciousness and sensory experience as composed of elements held together by "and-connections," "senseless agglutinations," and "hookups;" the discontinuity hypothesis - focuses on the role of perceptual reorganization and sudden insight in discrimination learning and problem solving; states that a correct answer is recognized when its relation to the problem as a whole is discovered, and is distinguished from the trial-and-error, step-by-step approach of the associationist hypothesis; and the postulate of derived properties - emphasizes that parts of a stimulus cannot easily be disjointed or separated from other parts). Developments in the fields of biology, physics, psychology, and sociology, however, began to indicate that such an approach does not account adequately for "field processes" (i.e., entities composed of interacting forces). The contribution of Gestalt theory to psychology lies in its emphasis on the value of accounting for field forces in scientific methodology in general. In particular, the Gestalt theorists emphasized that the whole perception one obtains in a perceptual field "emerges" from the relationships among the parts of the form, where the parts may lose their former properties and take on new properties determined by the form of the whole pattern (cf., Kohler's principle of intimacy - states that in visual perception, in particular, the individual elements of a "whole" are dependent on each to give the true picture of the "whole"). In short, "the whole of perceptual experience is more than the sum of the parts." An example of

"emergent" properties of physical parts is the liquid nature of water when the gaseous elements of hydrogen and oxygen are combined. An example of "emergent" properties in psychological parts is the apparent motion (called the phi phenomenon/ movement) created in a perceiver when rapidly flipping a series of overlapping still photographs (cf., short-circuit theory - suggests that apparent or phenomenal movement is due to a short-circuit between the regions of the brain aroused by each stimulus and, consequently, generates newly-structured unities or perceptions). The Gestaltist emphasis on the "wholism" of perceptual experience has been accepted largely in modern perceptual theories, where it often is called top-down (or context-determined) processing of stimulus information. In a learning/memory context, the Gestalt conception of memory is comparable to Aristotle's earlier theory that perception is "stamp-ed in" as a corresponding memory trace; cf., the German philosopher Friedrich Eduard Beneke's (17981854) early doctrine of traces which states that an idea, upon its disappearance from the mind, leaves a trace; the subsequent revival/retrieval of this trace constitutes memory; and copy theory, also called passive registration theory, which states that what is perceived is a replica of real objects and that memory is an accurate storehouse of reality. Gestalters argue that the neural processes active during perception may endure in a mitigated form as a trace and, thus, information is stored in substantially the same form by the same neural processes as in the original perception (cf., phenomenon/hypothesis of isomorphism - the notion that there is a structural similarity between excitatory fields in the cortex and conscious experience). The old laws of association (such as contiguity, similarity/resemblance, and contrast), enunciated by the early philosophers, are analogous to the Gestalt laws of perceptual organization (such as proximity, similarity, and good continuation). In recent years, studies in perception have attempted to quantify the laws of perceptual organization as the Gestalters originally described them (cf., stepwise phenomenon -Wertheimer's principle that a sequence of separate steps along a continuum is perceived normally as an organized smooth progression, and occurs with "prothetic" but not with "metathetic" continua; cf., Stevens' power law). The typical approach is to create a number of perceptual stimulus arrays, present them to individuals, and then ask the people to rank them numerically along certain stimulus dimensions (such as good continuation or similarity). Much of this work has provided experimental confirmation of many of the propositions of Gestalt theory. However, researchers are not able to explain how these perceptual organization laws work. Current investigations in the field of artificial intelligence are seeking to model and design human perceptual systems, including the laws of perceptual organization, but, to date, this work has met with only limited success. See also ASSOCIATION, LAWS/PRINCIPLES OF; BELONGINGNESS, LAW/PRINCIPLE OF; COCKTAIL PARTY EFFECT; CODING THEORIES; CONSTANCY HYPOTHESIS; EMPIRICIST VERSUS NATIVIST THEORIES; INFORMATION AND INFORMATION-PROCESSING THEORY; LEARNING THEORIES/LAWS; LEAST EFFORT, PRINCIPLE OF; LEWINS FIELD THEORY; PERCEPTION, THEORIES OF; REDINTEGRATION, PRINCIPLE/LAWS OF; STEVENS' POWER LAW; TOP-DOWN PROCESSING THEORIES; von RESTORFF EFFECT; ZEISING'S PRINCIPLE. REFERENCES

Beneke, F. E. (1832). Lehrbuch derpsycholo-gie als naturwissenschaft. Berlin: Mittler.

Thorndike, E. L. (1907). The elements of psychology. New York: Seiler. Wertheimer, M. (1912). Experimental studies of the perception of movement. Zeitschrift fur Psychologie, 61, 161265.

Wertheimer, M. (1923/1958). Principles of perceptual organization. In D. Beardslee & M. Wertheimer (Eds.), Readings in perception. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand Reinhold. Beebe-Center, J. G. (1929). The law of affective equilibrium. American Journal of Psychology, 41, 54-69. Kohler, W. (1929). Gestalt psychology. New York: Liveright.

Koffka, K. (1935). The principles of Gestalt psychology. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World. Wertheimer, M. (1938). Laws of organization in perceptual forms. In W. Ellis (Ed.), A sourcebook of Gestalt psychology. London: Paul, Trench, Trubner.

Santos, J. F., & Garvin, E. A. (1962). A further examination of the Schafer-Murphy effect. American Journal of Psychology, 75, 259-264. Heider, R. (1970). Gestalt theory: Early history and reminiscences. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 6, 131-139. Restle, F. (1982). Coding theory as an integration of Gestalt psychology and information processing theory. In J. Beck (Ed.), Organization and representation in perception. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Wertheimer, M. (1982). Gestalt theory, holistic psychologies, and Max Wertheimer. Zeitschrift fur Psychologie, 190, 125-140. Zusne, L. (1987). Eponyms in psychology.

Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Tyler, C. W. (1995). Empirical aspects of symmetry perception. Spatial Vision, 9, 1-7. Tyler, C. W. (1998). Painters centre one eye in portraits. Nature, 392, 877-878.




GLASSER'S CHOICE THEORY. In addition to formulating "reality therapy" (a clinical approach that emphasizes one's basic needs such as the needs to belong, to be loved, and to gain self-worth and recognition), the American psychiatrist William Glasser (1925.. ) asserts that most human misery is caused by people trying to control others, whereas, in fact, the only behavior controllable is one's own behavior. Likewise, according to Glasser, others cannot make us do anything we really don't want to do. For all practical purposes, choice theory proposes that we choose everything we do, including the unhappiness we may feel. Other people can neither make us miserable, nor make us happy - all we can get from others, or give to them, is information. Choice theory states that we choose all of our actions and thoughts as well as, indirectly, almost all of our feelings and much of our physiology. Glasser's behavioral choice theory helps individuals to avoid confrontation by having them ask pertinent questions, and views both conscious and unconscious desires for external control as the main problem in the four major personal relationships: husband-wife, teacher-student, parent-child, and manager-worker. Choice theory advances the notion that all personal problems are both "present" problems and "relationship" problems, and suggests that anyone in a relationship should ask - before taking action - whether that action will help to keep the two related persons at least as close together as they are presently (if it will, the action may be worth taking). Moreover, in terms of choice theory, one is not depressed but, rather, one chooses "to depress." Glasser points out that choices about human relationships are at the heart of almost all psychological problems and that what governs such interactions, traditionally, is "external-control psychology;" and people -in seeking to achieve their goals - generally try to manipulate or coerce others. Choice theory challenges the ancient tradition of "I know what's right for you," and attempts to help people figure out how to be free to live their own lives the way they want to live them and still get along well with the people they need in their lives (cf., paradox of choice - too many options, or too many choices, may produce paralysis in the individual, rather than liberation). According to the prescriptions of Glasser's choice theory, what is needed today in one's relationships at home, work, and school is a total absence of effort to control or even judge others where the focus solely is on improving the relationships themselves. Such an orientation, however, may tend to legitimize an "ultra-laissez faire" attitude in human interactions and the theory, also, may appear to be too unidimensional in character for adoption by many clinical psychologists and therapists. In more positive terms, on the other hand, choice theory is a "non-controlling psychology" that promotes personal freedom in an effort to understand and sustain in people the relationships that lead to healthy and productive lives. See also CHOICE THEORIES; ELIMINATION BY ASPECTS THEORY; EXEMPLAR THEORY OF BEHAVIORAL CHOICE. REFERENCES

Glasser, W. (1998). Choice theory: A new psychology of personal freedom. New York: HarperCollins. Schwartz, B. (2004). The paradox of choice: Why more is less. New York: HarperCollins.


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