Gestalt psychology of perception

Gestalt Principles of Perception

In the 1930’s, a group of German psychologists turned their focus to the study of perception, and developed a unique school of thought, called ‘Gestalt psychology.’ The German word, Gestalt means shape, form or figure, depending on the context. Understanding Gestalt’s theories of perception will help to better understand visual language. The following guiding principles are their findings on perception:

Proximity: Individual elements are perceived as a group with nearby elements, even if they are not related.

Similarity: Elements tend to be perceived as a group when they share the same visual characteristics (i.e. Shape, size, colour, texture, value, orientation/ juxtaposition.)

Continuity: We tend to see shapes as continuous and unbroken, even when they are not. (i.e. The suggestion or abstraction of a thing.)

Closure: We interpret images as complete, closed figures, even when some of the necessary contour information is absent.

Figure/ Ground (Foreground/ Background): If a small figure is overlaid on a larger figure, we will interpret the small figure as being in the foreground, and the larger element in the background.


Gestalt Theory of Visual Perception

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