Gestalt psychology is a school of thought that believes and looks at human mind and behaviour as a whole. When we try to make so much sense about everything around us, Gestalt psychology will suggests that we do not simply focus on every small component. Instead we tend to perceive objects as part of a greater whole and as elements of more complex systems.
‘Whole is greater than the part’ is the only guiding principle of Gestalt psychology.
The brain creates a perception that is more than simply the sum of available sensory inputs, and it does so in predictable ways. Gestalt psychology translates these predictable ways into principles by which we organize sensory information.
If we look upto a scene which has beaches and coconut plantation we would immediately say that this picture belongs to some coastal parts. If individually we observe this we would say that this is a tree or a beach or a sun but when we are looking at it entirely we are not conscious of each of the figures rather we are aware of it as a beach. The parts become of secondary importance to us.
Similarly according to gestalt psychology, this apparent movement happens because our minds fill in missing information. This belief that the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts led to the discovery of several different phenomena that occur during perception.
What as the Laws of Gestalt Psychology?
In order to better understand how human perception works, Gestalt psychologists proposed a number of laws of perceptual organization that includes the following:
1. Law of Similarity
Two objects or things looking similar to one another will be visually perceived as a part of a group, structure or pattern – According to the law of similarity of gestalt principle the color, shapes, format, forms that look similar often given a sense of a rhythmic pattern.
For example, if units share similarities in characteristics such as shape, color or size, the human mind will group these units together. Following this principle, the visual focal point becomes that which is dissimilar or anomalous to the others. Graphic Designers, Web Designers, Fashion Designers often use law of similarity of gestalt principle while designing.
2. Law of Continuity
The good continuation, or continuity, law of Gestalt principle of perception states that humans seek relationships between units and therefore will follow shapes and lines beyond their ending points. Human perception tends to continue the created order or pattern rather than deviate from what has already been established. The law of continuity works with spatial patterns, but also across time as well. For example, when we listen to a song there is a continuous and systematic rhythm of notes and musical instruments that will make the song melodious.
Figure and Ground
The figure – is the object of the focus.
The ground- is the surrounding or the background area.
The figure-ground gestalt principle holds that human perception separates an object from its surrounding. Depending on characteristics such as contrasting color or size, the eye perceives these figures as being separate from the background. The “ground” or background space is also often called “negative space.”
3. Law of Proximity
The law of proximity maintains that humans tends to visually group units or shapes together if they are close to each other. Items far apart from each other are perceived as separate.
For example, readers tend to see words — composed of letter units — as a whole, because the specific letters are closer to each other in each group. When there is a gap or space, perception is interrupted and the perceiver has a more difficult time ascertaining organization or order.
4. Law of Closure
According to this gestalt principle when human perception tends to see complete, whole figures, even if there are gaps or missing pieces of information. The human brain has a tendency to close gaps and provide the missing information, especially when the pattern or form is familiar. For this closure to occur, the gaps between the pattern or form must be easily filled. This principle is used in cartoon animation to create motion between still images.
5. Law of Symmetry
The Law of Symmetry is the gestalt grouping law that states that elements that are symmetrical to each other tend to be perceived as a unified group. Similar to the law of similarity, this rule suggests that objects that are symmetrical with each other will be more likely to be grouped together than objects not symmetrical with each other. This is a lawful statement of the role of symmetry in determining figure-ground perception. Symmetrical elements are perceived as part of the same group. Have you ever looked at figures that look like mirror reflections of each other this relationship helps us perceive these elements as a single figure. To create the circle, the designer portrayed one half as a bike wheel and one half as a manhole cover. While different in texture and colour, the fact that they resembled a symmetrical figure unified them in the eyes of this poster’s audience.
Use of gestalt psychology in daily life
We see a lot of images and designs that are created to make an impression of a particular message. Most of the designers believe that a good creative idea plus the right use of gestalt law will always equal to a good design.
Gestalt Principle can help in organising the content and focusing the attention to a particular object or message in the most effective way.
Gestalt can be applied to individual images, creation of logos and the overall design scheme for almost any project.
Using the figure and ground principle you can make use of this gestalt principle and work towards clicking photo, logo designing , painting website reframing if we understand what should be the focus and what should fall behind.
The simple principle given by the gestalt psychology may sound like a concept that needs a lot of brainstorming and hard-work yet they can make a lot of difference in our life all together. These principles probably might be something we practice or preach on our day to day basis.
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