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Herman A. Witkin

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Herman A. Witkin (August 2, 1916—July 8, 1979) was an American psychologist whose interests lied in the spheres of cognitive psychology and learning. He was a pioneer of the theory of Cognitive styles and Learning styles (developed in cooperation with Solomon Asch, Donald Goodenough etc.), which he preferred to diagnose not by questionnaires but by more objective means, such as projective tests, task-solving tests etc. Author of the concept of field-dependency vs. field-independency.

Witkin's research showed that there were differences in how people perceived discrete items within a surrounding field. People at the one end of the extreme where perception was strongly dominated by the prevailing field were designated "field-dependent." Field-dependent learners see the forest. At the other extreme, people were considered "field-independent", if they experienced items as more or less separate from the field. Whereas field-dependent people see the forest, field-independent learners see the tree within the forest. Since scores on learning style tests form a continuous scale, the terms field-dependent and field-independent reflect a tendency, in varying degrees of strength, toward one end of the extreme (field-dependent) or the other (field-independent) (Witkin et al, 1977).

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