Gestalt is a psychology term that defines as everything or anything in its simplest form. In German, gestalt means ‘shape’ or form’. The term also refers to principles, or theories, of visual perception that were founded by German psychologists in the 1920s. The founders of these theories are Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler, and Kurt Koffka. Koffka defined Gestalt theory as “The whole is other than the sum of the parts is often incorrectly translated,” meaning that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. This belief led to the discovery of several varying phenomenons that occur during perception.
Laws/Theories of Gestalt Psychology:
- Law of Similarity-objects that are often perceived as a group or pattern due to having similar characteristics. When there is similarity, a part of the whole can be modified or emphasized, creating an anomaly. This anomaly then becomes the center focus of the whole object.
- Law of Proximity-elements are grouped together if they look similar. This similarity can occur in the form of shape, color, or other qualities.
- Law of Closure-occurs when is incomplete, yet is still perceived as a whole. If enough of the shape is indicated, people perceive the whole by filling in the missing information.
- Law of Symmetry-states that the mind perceives objects as being symmetrical and forming around a center point.
- Law of Continuity-occurs when the eye is compelled to move throughout an object, due to the use of lines or patterns.
- Law of Pragnanz-explains that elements of objects tend to be perceptually grouped together if they form a pattern that is regular, simple, and orderly. The image below is perceived as a series of rings rather than complicated shapes.
- Law of Past Experience- states that under some circumstances visual stimuli are categorized according to past experience
Gestalt psychology tries to understand the laws of our ability to acquire meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world. The central idea of gestalt psychology is that the mind forms an understanding of an object or an image that may or may not have a subliminal message.
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