What Is Insight Learning And Insight Psychology?
Have you ever wanted to know the answer to something, and then the answer appeared right in front of you without warning? Welcome to insight. Insight is a psychological phenomenon worth discussing, and in this post, we will tell you all about insight learning and insight psychology.
What Is Insight Learning?
Insight learning is when you realize the solution to a problem or question without trial or error or continually trying to answer it. Insight learning may rely on previous experience for it to work.
Wolfgang Kohler first proposed it. He was a psychologist who helped found Gestalt psychology. He tested chimpanzees and made them solve problems. He realized that they could solve problems without having to go through trial and error or stimulus-response.
Trial and error are when someone repeatedly solves a problem until they get it right, and the stimulus-response association is when you learn to associate something with a stimulus. For example, if a dog hears a dinner bell every time he gets food, he will associate the bell with food, even if it’s ringing with no food present.
Chimps could solve problems without needing that. Insight can help people learn about cause and effect or figuring out what comes next based on the information you know now. Let’s discuss that chimpanzee experiment more for a second to find out more about insight and insight psychology.
The Chimpanzee Experiment
This experiment involved a chimp named Sultan. Sultan was hungry, and there were bananas outside its cage. In the cage, there were two bamboo sticks. One was long, and one was short. However, even the long one couldn’t grab the bananas. Instead, one needed to combine the sticks to make the length long enough.
Sultan tried using the sticks separately, and the poor chimp tried and tried, almost to the point of giving up. Then, he pushed the stick forward using the other stick, and the banana touched. That was the “aha” moment where Sultan learned that he should combine the two sticks. The next day, the experiment was tried again, and Sultan grabbed the bananas with no trouble at all. That is the gist of insight and insight learning.
The Two Characteristics Of Insight in Learning
Insight learning has two characteristics. First, insights see the situation. The other involves us not wanting to solve the problem by learning step-by-step, but instead unconsciously. Insight learning may feel sudden, but it usually doesn’t come suddenly based on anything. Instead, insight learning begins through intense methods of research. This is called the pre-solution period. For example, Sultan experimenting with the sticks. Then, there is idleness in the research, which is the time before the answer appears in front of you.
Knowing the idea won’t work alone. Someone needs time for the answer to come to them. Insight can depend on how long the event occurred and what the circumstances were. This can allow someone enough time to find the solution.
What Influences Insight
Insight can influence many things. These include:
- How much sleep you’ve gotten. One experiment divided people who had gotten an adequate amount of sleep for the night and people who had no sleep at all. Those who slept were able to double their insight compared to those who had to stay awake.
- One’s emotional state can affect their insight performance. For example, if you’re in a more positive mood, you have a higher chance of using insight. If you’re in an anxious mood, this decreased your chances of solving problems.
- Having breaks can improve insight. One experiment found that giving someone a break improved their insight compared to if someone had no break at all. So, how long did the break have to be to improve one’s insight? It doesn’t matter. It was found that whether the break was long or short helped the person find the answer they needed.
- In the brain, insight seems to be influenced by temporal lobes in your brain, as well as the mid-frontal cortex. This has given us some, well, insight into how to brain processes insight.
- Someone who performs in a group instead of solving a problem individually has a higher chance of reaching an insight. With more heads working on a problem together, the chances increase that someone will reach an answer. This especially applies if there is a short break between working and figuring out the problem.
- Someone with a more open personality can solve an insight problem easier than someone who is more emotional and close-minded.
- Someone who has a high IQ often performs better on an insight problem. However, a person with a low IQ benefits more from hints.
- According to an Australian study, only 20 percent of people have claimed they have had a problem solved by insight. This may mean that insight may not apply to everyone.
- When one experiences insight, they will suddenly change how they perceive a problem. People who have insight tend to be quick learners.
- Insight is a sudden realization. There is no gradual piecing together of the answers, but instead a realization of the solution.
- A person who experiences insight may view patterns in general or see a certain way that an object is organized. This helps them learn more.
- Someone who is an insight learner has a strong sense of understanding.
- Animals with higher intelligence experience insight. Animals with lower intelligence typically do not.
- A child typically does not experience insight. Instead, insight improves with age, and adults are the best at using the skill.
- Someone’s past experiences in life can be useful when realizing insight.
- Insight learning may be associated with, well, associative learning, where one learns to find similarities in objects.
- There is a difference between insight discovered in a lab and insight in a non-lab setting. In a natural environment, insight was a more gradual realization, and the concept of incubation didn’t matter as much.
Insight In Psychiatry
In the field of psychiatry, as well as psychology itself, there is another definition of insight. In this field, insight is the awareness someone has of their own mental illness.
You probably know people who have a mental illness and are very aware of it, always speaking about how it affects them and what they do to treat it. They will talk about what medicines they take, how therapy went, and so on. On the other hand, you may know people who have an obvious mental illness, but they may not have any awareness of it at all and maybe defensive when told they have it.
Those who have less awareness do have some insight into their mental illness, but it’s seen as poor. Anosognosia is when someone has no awareness at all of their mental illness.
So who is aware and who is not? Someone with OCD, phobias, and depression probably knows they have a mental disorder and will actively treat it. Sometimes, the medication they take may reduce insight, but that all depends.
Meanwhile, someone with psychosis or schizophrenia may have less awareness. They may believe their hallucinations are real and that anyone who says they’re ill is trying to deceive them. The solution to someone who has no awareness seems to be cognitive behavioral therapy.
And that is the gist of insight. Insight can be a valuable way to solve problems, and in the psychiatric definition, seek the help you need. It is interesting how we learn how to solve problems and how the brain can provide solutions at the most convenient or inconvenient time. As we further study the brain, we may find out more reasons for how the brain works and solves problems.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is insight in psychology?
Insight is an aspect of learning theory that reveals truths or facts due to intuition or introspection. In a psychological context, the focus is often not on the revelation itself but rather on illusions blocking the revelation. People who cannot identify their core needs or the origins of their problematic thoughts cannot address or resolve those issues. Therefore, learning insight is a key goal of psychological treatment.
What is an example of insight in learning?
Many of us have experienced a problem we could not solve — only to have the solution appear to us later as we’re in the shower or having a dream. It’s the basis for the popular advice to “sleep on it.” This happens because of insight in learning. One common example is when we are attempting to resolve a conflict with a loved one. We can’t figure out how to make things right, but the perfect apology comes to us after we’ve had some time to think.
There’s nothing magic about this. According to learning theory, our brains had to spend some time processing information. We draw upon associative learning, in which our brains group together related information. Once those connections are made, we can extrapolate new solutions — the key to learning insight.
In a therapeutic setting, insight in learning may happen as patients struggle to figure out their emotions' true shape. The role of the therapist is to help them process everything so that they can mentally restructure it. Only then can they find the solution.
Why is insight in learning important?
According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, the insight learning model was an important departure from the learning theory's trial-and-error model. The insight model acknowledged the brain’s power to re-wire and re-model thought processes. This ended up being the basis of many psychotherapies. By contrast, trial-and-error learning focused on situations in which a subject engaged in random behaviors until they stumbled upon a solution, like a rat in a maze. This learning theory assumed that individuals were responding to stimuli, then making memories for each response.
This is called associative learning: they are not simply processing each wall of the maze. They are grouping different pieces of information and figuring out the overall shape.
In Wolfgang Köhler’s work, he attempted to guide his animal subjects toward the right solution, but it did not work. This indicated that they needed to achieve their own solutions through the power of learning insight. This is important to psychological therapy because it proves the importance of patient agency and associative learning — allowing them to do the bulk of the work rather than telling them how to think and feel.
Who promoted the insight theory of learning?
One of the most famous examples of insight in learning was Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Köhler’s research, seminal in learning theory. He was working with a chimpanzee named Sultan. Kohler placed a banana outside Sultan’s cage and gave him two bamboo sticks. Sultan knew how to use tools, so he maneuvered the sticks to bring the banana within reach. Nothing worked until Sultan accidentally inserted one stick into the other. Now it was long enough to reach the banana.
The next day, Kohler repeated the experiment. Sultan had benefited from associative learning in which the two sticks and the banana all made sense together. Sultan immediately combined the sticks and pulled the banana toward him. This is an example of learning insight because Sultan already knew everything that didn’t work, but the solution came to him in a “eureka!” moment.
What is an example of insight in psychology?
What is insight cognitive psychology?
How many types of insights are there in psychology?
What is the difference between thoughts and insights?
What are key sources of insight?
Is insight a form of thinking?
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