© 2020

Max Wertheimer Productive Thinking

  • Viktor Sarris

Part of the Classic Texts in the Sciences book series (CTS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. Max Wertheimer
    Pages 25-257

About this book


Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), a pioneer of 20th-century psychology, had a major influence on the development of cognitive psychology, especially the psychology of perception and of productive thinking. His work “Productive Thinking” (1945), written in New York, is regarded as a milestone in creativity research. Consisting of many examples of creative thought processes - from geometric tasks to socio-psychologically relevant conflict resolutions to the development of Einstein’s theory of relativity - the book leads the reader through a multi-faceted body of thought in the psychology of thinking.

Detailed historical commentary by Viktor Sarris.

Only a few texts in psychology have remained significant even after a period of three quarters of a century - Max Wertheimer’s Productive Thinking is such an exception. This book, which also presents an exposition of Gestalt psychology, highlights the “productive” (insightful) versus automatic (unreflected) thought processes for many areas of life. In addition to examples from school teaching, the chapter on the emergence of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity is of lasting interest to today's generation of psychologists, pedagogues, brain researchers, neuroinformatics scientists/researchers
and philosophers. Wertheimer had the unique opportunity to analyze Einstein’s thinking in direct conversation. An introductory commentary by Viktor Sarris for this new edition of the first publication of Productive Thinking in 1945 offers a detailed account of the genesis and reception of Wertheimer’s work.


productive thinking creativity Max Wertheimer Galilei Galileo Albert Einstein

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA

Editors and affiliations

  • Viktor Sarris
    • 1
  1. 1.Frankfurt am MainGermany

About the editors


Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), the main founder of Gestalt psychology, taught and conducted research in perception and psychology of thinking in Frankfurt am Main and in Berlin. He emigrated to the USA in 1933 to continue his research and teaching at the New School for Social Research (New York). His work "Productive Thinking" (1945) was posthumously published there as his chief work.



Viktor Sarris is Professor Emeritus of Psychology, in particular General Psychology, and the former holder of the Max-Wertheimer Chair at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. His work focuses on perceptual as well as cognitive psychology, comparative psychophysics and the history of psychology.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Max Wertheimer Productive Thinking
  • Authors Max Wertheimer
  • Editors Viktor Sarris
  • Series Title Classic Texts in the Sciences
  • Series Abbreviated Title Classic Texts in the Sciences
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Birkhäuser, Cham
  • eBook Packages Mathematics and Statistics Mathematics and Statistics (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-36062-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-36065-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-36063-4
  • Series ISSN 2365-9963
  • Series E-ISSN 2365-9971
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages IX, 257
  • Number of Illustrations 165 b/w illustrations, 1 illustrations in colour
  • Topics History of Science
    History of Psychology
    Cognitive Psychology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site