Gestalt psychologists proposed two distinct learning mechanisms. Associative learning occurs gradually through the repeated co-occurrence of external stimuli or memories. Insight learning occurs suddenly when people discover new relationships within their prior knowledge as a result of reasoning or problem solving processes that re-organize or restructure that knowledge. While there has been a considerable amount of research on the type of problem solving processes described by the Gestalt psychologists, less has focused on the learning that results from these processes. This paper begins with a historical review of the Gestalt theory of insight learning. Next, the core assumptions of Gestalt insight learning theory are empirically tested with a study that investigated the relationships among problem difficulty, impasse, initial problem representations, and resolution effects. Finally, Gestalt insight learning theory is discussed in relation to modern information processing theories of comprehension and memory formation.
Ash, Ivan K.; Jee, Benjamin D.; and Wiley, Jennifer
"Investigating Insight as Sudden Learning,"
The Journal of Problem Solving:
2, Article 2.