+
Gestalt Theory

Gestalt Theory

Description:

In this lesson you will learn to define and recognize the use of gestalt theory, a sensory theory of communications.

(more)
See More
Try a College Course Free

Sophia’s self-paced online courses are a great way to save time and money as you earn credits eligible for transfer to over 2,000 colleges and universities.*

Begin Free Trial
No credit card required

25 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

221 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 20 of Sophia’s online courses. More than 2,000 colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.

Tutorial

What's Covered

Hi everyone, and welcome to today's lesson on the gestalt theory. Today you will learn about what it is, why it's important, and cover a bit of the gestalt laws. Specifically, you will learn about:

  1. Gestalt Theory Introduction
  2. Law of Proximity
  3. Law of Similarity
  4. Law of Closure
  5. Law of Continuity
  6. Law of Common Fate

1. Gestalt Theory Introduction

The gestalt theory is another theory that crosses over many disciplines. Most importantly for this lesson, of course, it extends to the visual design and communication. An important figure of this theory was Max Wertheimer, a Czech psychologist and one of the founders of the gestalt psychology.

Terms to Know

    • Gestalt Principles
    • First proposed by German psychologists, based on the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
    • Max Wertheimer
    • Czech psychologist and one of the founders of Gestalt psychology.

The gestalt theory had a set of gestalt principles that were first proposed by German psychologists based on the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The gestalt theory is great to know because it directly applies to visual communications dealing with the organization and perception of elements in groups. It also greatly, greatly impacts how a viewer perceives a design.


2. Law of Proximity

The law of proximity states that elements that are close to one another appear to form groups even if they have different characteristics.

Term to Know

    • Law of Proximity
    • Elements that are close to one another appear to form groups, even if they have different characteristics.

In the example above, a lot of these elements, even though of varying shape and color, appear to form groups because they are in close proximity to each other.


3. Law of Similarity

The law of similarity states that elements that share characteristics tend to be perceived as a group.

Term to Know

    • Law of Similarity
    • Elements that share characteristics tend to be perceived as a group.

So rather than their proximity, it's about similar characteristics.



In the example above, everything is closer and tighter, but you're still able to separate them into groups because of similar characteristics. Colors are closely related or similar in size and shape as well.



4. Law of Closure

The law of closure states that elements tend to be perceived as a completed whole if they are aligned, even if some information is missing.

Term to Know

    • Law of Closure
    • Elements tend to be perceived as a complete whole if they are aligned, even if some information is missing.

So if you look at the example above, you have elements that are nicely aligned and stacked. Even though you have removed some of the structure in the piece, you're still able to perceive the shapes as a whole even though there's a lot of visual information missing. That's because the elements in the piece are in alignment.


5. Law of Continuity

The law of continuity states that the eye will naturally follow this path.

Term to Know

    • Law of Continuity
    • The eye will naturally follow the smoothest path.

This means that your eye is going to follow the smoothest and most logical path.

In this example, similar elements are grouped together, and they're arranged in a certain way that creates a steady flow of direction. Your eye is going to follow the line that's been created. Here it kind of looks like these blocks were nicely stacked at some point and then collapsed, so your eye draws those conclusions and follows the corresponding line.

If you had everything spread out with no real path for the eye to follow, then again, your eye will naturally attempt to follow the smoothest path available.



And in this case, the blocks are creating this circular motion, so that's where my eyes tend to travel.


6. Law of Common Fate

The law of common fate states that the elements that move in the same direction will tend to be perceived as a group.

Term to Know

    • Law of Common Fate
    • Elements that move in the same direction will tend to be perceived as a group.

In this example, you'll notice all the objects moving in the same direction are visually grouped. Your eye notices direction and will group elements accordingly. If you shift elements around, however, once again, you'll notice that even if the elements in a design are not the same shape or color, you will group them accordingly if they are moving together in the same direction.

So the squares would be considered in one group here in one sided page, or the circles and triangles would be considered another part of the group in the top right corner there.

Summary

Well, that concludes today's lesson on gestalt theory. Specifically, this lesson covered the law of proximity, law of similarity, law of closure, law of continuity, and law of common fate.

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR MARIO E. HERNANDEZ

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Gestalt Principles

    First proposed by German psychologists, based on the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Max Wertheimer

    Czech psychologist and one of the founders of Gestalt psychology.

  • Law of Proximity

    Elements that are close to one another appear to form groups, even if they have different characteristics.

  • Law of Similarity

    Elements that share characteristics tend to be perceived as a group.

  • Law of Closure

    Elements tend to be perceived as a complete whole if they are aligned, even if some information is missing.

  • Law of Continuity

    The eye will naturally follow the smoothest path.

  • Law of Common Fate

    Elements that move in the same direction will tend to be perceived as a group.