Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gestalt Psychology

The formal definition for Gestalt Psychology is a theory of mind and brain proposes that the operational principle of the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies, or that the whole is different from the sum of its parts. In short Gestalt psychology is a theory of the mind/brain and how it visually recognizes forms and figures as a whole and emphasizes that the whole of anything is greater than its parts. The Gestalt effect refers to the form-forming capability of our senses, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of figures and whole forms instead of just a collection of simple lines and curves.


There are four key principles of Gestalt systems are emergence, reification, multistability, and invariance.

is the ability to see recognizable objects/shapes in an image that is actually not made out of real objects/shapes. Such as in this image where you should be able to see the image of a dog smelling the ground.

is the ablity to see shapes because of their surrounding shapes and not because the shape itself has been drawn. Such as in the first drawing there is not an actual triangle drawn but we can see the triangle because of the negative space created by the cutouts in the circles.

is the ability to see two or more images coexist within the same shape or outline. However, We usually can't see both images at the same time. Such as in the second image you may see either a vase or two heads looking at eachother.

is when one object or shape is changed somehow, either by flipping, rotating, scaleing, etc. it is still recognizable as the same object or shape. Such as in all of these examples no matter what you do to the shape you can still tell they are all the same object.

The fundamental principle of gestalt perception is the law of pr├Ągnanz which says our minds tend to order our experience in a manner that is regular, orderly, symmetric, and simple. This principle contains the Law of: closer, similarity, proximity, symmetry, continuity, and common fate. They are often called the "Gestalt Laws".

The "Gestalt Laws":

Law of Closure: we can see a closed object or shape when we are given enough information.

Law of Similarity: we put similar elements together and see them as a collective entity depending on their shape, size, color, texture, etc.
Law of Proximity: we make groups of images depending on their spacial relationships.

Law of Symmetry: we put images together if they have similar symmetry

Law of Continuity: after seeing a pattern on paper we will continue that pattern our mind

Law of Common Fate: we group elements that show the same movement and flow of line

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