Insight Learning

Insight learning is the abrupt realisation of a problem’s solution through cognitive reasoning

  • It is not a result of trial and error, responding to a stimulus or mimicry through observation

Insight learning was first described by Wolfgang Kohler, who studied the behaviour of a chimpanzee named Sultan

  • Sultan was placed in a cage and a piece of food was placed outside of his reach
  • Sultan was presented with a short stick, which he learned to use to drag the food close enough to reach
  • Kohler then moved the food outside of the range of the short stick but placed a longer stick within range
  • Sultan used the short stick to reach the longer stick, and then used the longer stick to reach the food
  • Sultan was never conditioned to use the short stick in this way – he had demonstrated insight learning

Insight learning is typically seen in organisms with higher cognitive functions – including primates, dolphins and crows

Pigeon Solves a Simple Problem

Crow Solves a Complex Problem