Saturday, April 2, 2011

Which shape would you call "Kiki" and which "Booba?"

In a psychological experiment first designed by Wolfgang Köhler, people are asked to choose which of these shapes is named Booba and which is named Kiki. 95% to 98% of people choose Kiki for the angular shape and Booba for the rounded shape. It is thought that this has implications for language development, in that the naming of objects is not completely arbitrary. The rounded shape may most commonly be named Booba because the mouth makes a more rounded shape to produce that sound. Similarly a more taut, angular mouth shape is needed to make the sound Kiki. The sounds of a K are harder and more forceful than those of a B, as well. Wolfgang Köhler (1887 –1967) was a German-American psychologist and phenomenologist who, like Max Wertheimer, and Kurt Koffka, contributed to the creation of Gestalt psychology. Köhler observed the manner in which chimpanzees solve problems, such as that of retrieving bananas when positioned out of reach. He found that they stacked wooden crates to use as makeshift ladders, in order to retrieve the food. If the bananas were placed on the ground outside of the cage, they used sticks to lengthen the reach of their arms. Köhler concluded that the chimps had not arrived at these methods through trial-and-error (which American psychologist Edward Thorndike had claimed to be the basis of all animal learning, through his law of effect), but rather that they had experienced an insight (also sometimes known as an “aha experience”), in which, having realized the answer, they then proceeded to carry it out in a way that was, in Köhler’s words, “unwaveringly purposeful.” After many observations with chimpanzees, it was concluded that these animals were capable of problem-solving and that they did not arrive at their methods through trial and error. This is one of the prominent findings from the research done on apes. Furthermore, it has been stated in the past that Köhler’s work on the mentality of apes was a turning point in the psychology of thinking. Max Wertheimer (1880 –1943) was a Czech-born psychologist who was one of the three founders of Gestalt psychology, along with Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler. Max Wertheimer's unique contribution was to insist that the "Gestalt" is perceptually primary, defining the parts of which it was composed, rather than being a secondary quality that emerges from those parts, as von Ehrenfels's earlier Gestalt-Qualität had been.
Kurt Koffka (1886 - 1941) was a German psychologist. Koffka believed that most of early learning is what he referred to as, "sensorimotor learning," which is a type of learning which occurs after a consequence. For example, a child who touches a hot stove will learn not to touch it again. Koffka also believed that a lot of learning occurs by imitation, though he argued that it is not important to understand how imitation works, but rather to acknowledge that it is a natural occurrence. According to Koffka, the highest type of learning is ideational learning, which makes use of language. Koffka notes that an important time in children's development is when they understand that objects have names.

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