Education Portal is now Study.com! Same great content, just under a new name. Learn more
Copyright

Insight Learning - Wolfgang Kohler: Theory, Definition & Examples

  • 0:01 Theory Development
  • 1:25 Insight Learning Definition
  • 2:26 Examples
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
Create An Account
To Start This Course Today
Used by over 10 million students worldwide
Create An Account
Try it free for 5 days
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Chris Clause
Insight learning is a theory of learning first put forth by Wolfgang Kohler about 90 years ago. Learn about the development and definition of this theory and then test your knowledge with a short quiz.

Theory Development

In the 1920s, German psychologist Wolfgang Kohler was studying the behavior of apes. He designed some simple experiments that led to the development of one of the first cognitive theories of learning, which he called insight learning.

In his experiment, Kohler hung a piece of fruit just out of reach of each chimp. He then provided the chimps with either two sticks or three boxes, then waited and watched. Kohler noticed that after the chimps realized they could not simply reach or jump up to retrieve the fruit, they stopped, had a seat, and thought about how they might solve the problem. Then after a few moments, the chimps stood up and proceeded to solve the problem.

In the first scenario, the problem was solved by placing the smaller stick into the longer stick to create one very long stick that could be used to knock down the hanging fruit. In the second scenario, the chimps would solve the problem by stacking the boxes on top of each other, which allowed them to climb up to the top of the stack of boxes and reach the fruit.

Learning occurs in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is the result of direct observation; other times, it is the result of experience through personal interactions with the environment. Kohler called this newly observed type of learning insight learning. Based on these observations, Kohler's theory of insight learning became an early argument for the involvement of cognition, or thinking, in the process of learning.

Definition of Insight Learning

Insight learning is the abrupt realization of a problem's solution. Insight learning is not the result of trial and error, responding to an environmental stimulus, or the result of observing someone else attempting the problem. It is a completely cognitive experience that requires the ability to visualize the problem and the solution internally - in the mind's eye, so to speak - before initiating a behavioral response.

Insight learning is considered a type of learning because it results in a long-lasting change. Following the occurrence of insight, the realization of how to solve the problem can be repeated in future similar situations.

Example of Insight Learning

Insight learning happens regularly in each of our lives and all around us. Inventions and innovations alike are oftentimes the result of insight learning. We have all experienced the sensation of insight learning at one time or another. It is sometimes called a 'eureka' or 'aha' moment. Whatever you call it, insight learning is often at the root of creative, out of the box, thinking.

Here is an example of a situation that, while simple, illustrates the basic principles of insight learning. If you are like most people, when you were a kid you loved a good snow cone. While many think of snow cones as a summertime treat, kids don't care what season it is. So, imagine it's January, you live in Minnesota, and your son wants a snow cone. Unless you have a snow cone maker, you're probably telling your son, 'Maybe the next time we go out to eat we'll get one, okay?'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member

Already a member? Log In

Start Your Free Trial To Take This Quiz

As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 10,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.

Free 5-day trial
It only takes a few minutes to set up and you can cancel at any time.
Already registered? Login here for access

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 100 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,900 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.