Koffka, Kurt

Koffka, Kurt

(kŏf`kə, Ger. ko͝ort kôf`kä), 1886–1941, American psychologist, b. Germany, Ph.D. Univ. of Berlin, 1908. Before settling permanently in the United States in 1928 as a professor at Smith, he taught at Cornell and at the Univ. of Wisconsin. With Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Köhler he is credited with developing the theories that gave rise to the school of GestaltGestalt
[Ger.,=form], school of psychology that interprets phenomena as organized wholes rather than as aggregates of distinct parts, maintaining that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
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 psychology. His book Growth of the Mind (1924) was considered responsible for awakening much interest in Gestalt concepts.


See his Principles of Gestalt Psychology (1935).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Koffka, Kurt


Born Mar. 18, 1886, in Berlin; died Nov. 22, 1941, in Northampton, Mass. German-American psychologist; one of the founders of gestalt psychology.

Koffka was a student of C. Stumpf. He became an assistant professor in 1911 and a professor in 1918 (to 1924) at the University of Giessen. In 1927 he became a professor at Smith College in Northampton, Mass. Together with M. Wertheimer and W. Köhler, Koffka published the journal Psychologische Forschungy, the principal organ of gestalt psychology. Lecturing in the USA and Great Britain during the early 1920’s, he played an important role in the worldwide popularization of gestalt psychology. His most important work, Principles of Gestalt Psychology (1935), is a fundamental summary of the achievements of the gestalt school. Koffka was the first of the gestalt psychologists to address himself to problems of the psychological development of the child (1921).


Principles of Gestalt Psychology, 3rd ed. New York, 1950.
In Russian translation: “Samonabliudenie i metod psikhologii.” In the anthology Problemy sovremennoi psikhologii. Moscow, 1926.
Osnovy psikhicheskogo razvitiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Koffka, Kurt

(1886–1941) psychologist; born in Berlin, Germany. He was one of the early proponents of Gestalt psychology, along with Wolfgang Köhler and Max Wertheimer. He emigrated to the United States in the mid-1920s. He was affiliated with Smith College in 1927, becoming professor of psychology in 1932. In 1939 he helped develop tests for impaired judgment and comprehension. He was particularly interested in visual perception and also wrote extensively on art, music, literature, and ethical questions.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.