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Behaviorist psychologists in the USA had been influenced by Pavlov’s experiments and tended to study animal behavior in terms of stimulus and response. The German psychologist Wolfgang Kohler, however, felt that the approach missed a lot.
Kohler was a co-founder of the Gestalt movement and spent several years as director of a research center on Tenerife (spelling is correct) observing a chimpanzee colony.
Setting them tasks and watching the way in which they went about solving them, he noticed that they did not use a simple process of trial and error.
After trying unsuccessfully to solve a problem, such as getting food from a high or inaccessible place, a chimp would pause and think until it came up with a different method, often using a stick or climbing on a box.
If the solution worked, it was used again for similar problems.
Kohler realized that, rather than physical trial and error, the chimp went over the problem in its mind, learning by a cognitive process of perception and insight.