Introductory Textbooks: Problems Köhler’s insight revisited. George Windholz and P.A.Lamal
Wolfgang Köhler’s two-stick experiment-involving a chimpanzee joining two sticks and then raking in a bait placed outside its cage-was published about 60 years ago (Köhler, 1917/1925). This particular study is still described in many American psychology textbooks (e.g., introductory, learning, and history and systems). It is almost invariably presented as an example, par excellence, of the Gestalt notion of insight, as opposed to Edward L.Thorndike’s idea of trial-anderror learning. The student reading the textbook accounts of Köhler’s insight studies might conclude that the concept of insight was well established and thoroughly confirmed. We contend that textbook writers’ dissemination of such a conclusion is unwarranted. We also note that the issue of insight is still alive, as in the current reinterpretation of the notion by radical behaviorists (e.g., Epstein, 1981; Epstein, Kirshnit, Lanza, & Rubin, 1984).