Bluma Wulfovna Zeigarnik (Russian: Блю́ма Ву́льфовна Зейга́рник; 9 November 1901 – 24 February 1988) was a Soviet psychologist and psychiatrist, a member of the Berlin School of experimental psychology and Vygotsky Circle. She discovered the Zeigarnik effect and contributed to the establishment of experimental psychopathology as a separate discipline in the Soviet Union in the post-World War II period.
Life and career
Born into a Lithuanian Jewish family in Prienai, Suwałki Governorate, Zeigarnik matriculated from the Berlin University in 1927. She described the Zeigarnik effect in a diploma prepared under the supervision of Kurt Lewin. In the 1930s, she worked with Lev Vygotsky at the All-Union Institute of Experimental Medicine (AUIEM, aka VIEM). During World War II, she assisted Alexander Luria in repairing head injuries. She was a co-founder of the Moscow State University Department of Psychology and the All-Russian Seminars in Psychopathology. She died in Moscow at the age of 86.
The Zeigarnik effect
In psychology, the Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks (this effect should not be confused with the Ovsiankina effect). In Gestalt psychology, the Zeigarnik effect has been used to demonstrate the general presence of Gestalt phenomena: not just appearing as perceptual effects, but also present in cognition.
- 1927: Das Behalten erledigter und unerledigter Handlungen. Psychologische Forschung 9, 1-85.
- 1965: The pathology of thinking. New York: Consultants Bureau Enterprises.
- 1972: Experimental Abnormal Psychology. New York: Plenum Press.
- 1984: Kurt Lewin and Soviet psychology. Journal of Social Issues 40, 193.
- Van Bergen, A. (1968) Task interruption. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company.
- (Russian) Biography of Zeigarnik on the website of the MSU Department of Psychology
- A.V. Zeigarnik, "Bluma Zeigarnik: A Memoir" in Gestalt Theory (2007), no 3, pp. 256–268.
- Yasnitsky, A. (2011). Vygotsky Circle as a Personal Network of Scholars: Restoring Connections Between People and Ideas. Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, doi:10.1007/s12124-011-9168-5 pdf
- Maria Ovsiankina was a colleague of Bluma Zeigarnik who investigated the effect of task interruption on the tendency to resume the task at the next opportunity; cf. Ovsiankina 1928: Die Wiederaufnahme unterbrochener Handlungen. In: Psychologische Forschung 11(3/4), 302-379.
- cf. Kurt Koffka, Principles of Gestalt Psychology, 1935, pp 334ff.