Other Theories

Other Theories


In this lesson you will learn about the characteristics of three theoretical models of visual communications: the Lester/Huxley Model, Constructivism and Omniphasism.

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

28 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

264 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 22 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.


Video Transcription

Download PDF

Hi, everyone. My name is Mario. I'd like to welcome you to today's lesson on other theories. So in this lesson, we'll touch on three other theoretical models on visual communications. As always, feel free to stop, fast-forward, and rewind at your own pace. And then, when you're ready to go, let's begin.

We touched on a fair number of visual theories up until this point, but there are many visual researchers in a variety of fields studying visual perception, so this lesson, we'll focus on just a few more-- starting with a constructivist theory. Constructivism is a sensory-based theory based on the idea that eye movements capture visual outline, and then the mind constructs understanding. There are many theories by this name, but this one is specific to visual communication. And you can think of it like visual blueprinting.

Now this is actually quite interesting, because it relates to how we perceive images directly. And the basic idea is that our eyes are constantly moving as they scan the image. Like I said, the eyes jump around to different points of the image, capture an outline or visual information, and then your mind does the rest.

So, if we quickly look at this example, your eye quickly scans the image and is able to figure out that it's a women doing yoga. And what's really cool, as I mentioned, is that if we were to set up some sort of eye tracking machine as you took a look at some of these other examples, you'd notice again that your eyes jump around and scan, and quickly discern what it's looking at-- even if you've had a short amount of time to do it or if the images are abstract.

I personally think it's good to know this, because it plays a role in understanding things like billboards and ads that you pass along the way, like the highway or on the road somewhere. You drive past those things pretty quickly, so you need to be able to place and design elements in a fashion where the viewer is able to construct the image or idea you're trying to promote really quickly.

So we'll move on and talk about the Huxley/Lester model, which is a theory based on the work of Aldous Huxley and Paul Lester, which stressed the importance of sensing, selecting, and perceiving. Now it's called the Huxley/Lester model because Aldous Huxley began work that was later adopted and continued by Paul Lester.

Aldous Huxley was a writer and experimental scientist who's credo was-- the more you see, the more you know. And Huxley had quite an interesting life. He came from a lineage of scientists and-- believe it or not-- he had terrible vision and experienced blindness various times, prompting him to learn Braille. His problems with sight actually led him on a quest to better understand how we see. His theory was broken into stages that were built like a formula, where sensing plus selecting plus perceiving equaled seeing. So the idea was that when you put all these pieces of the puzzle together, you can make sense of what you're looking at.

Now, Paul Lester is a photographer and visual communications theorist whose theories stress the value of the study of the full gamut of media and media production techniques. As I mentioned, Paul Lester took over where Huxley left off, and took great interest in his studies and expanded on them. Paul Lester continues to work today, and he believes that it's important to use media in ways where images provide usefulness. So, in his own words-- and this is a great quote-- image has no use if the viewer's mind doesn't use them. As feature image consumers and producers, you want to see images that you remember and make images that others remember.

Lastly, we have omniphasism. Omniphasism is a relatively new theory which attempts to combine the best thinking from previous theories. Omniphasism means "all in balance," referring to its focus on the use of all abilities of the mind. So again, it's much like the previous theories. It, again, tries to build and expand on previous theories.

The driving force behind this one is that when you combine your experiences, intelligence, intuition, association, and all these things-- that you make sense of what you see. For example, these Absolute Vodka ads. These don't need images of the bottle, necessarily. Because, again, the balance combination of your associations, experience, intuition and more allow you to figure out the message brand and idea-- even though these are rather abstract.

Well, that ends our lesson for today. Here are the key terms for this lesson-- constructivism, Huxley/Lester model, Aldous Huxley, Paul Lester, and omniphasism. I hope you've enjoyed our lesson for today. My name is Mario, and I'll see you next lesson.

Notes on "Other Theories"


Image of Yoga Silhouette, Creative Commons


Image of Pointing Silhouette, Public Domain


Image of Hummer Silhouette, Public Domain


Image of Aldous Huxley, Public Domain


Image of Paul Lester, Public Domain


Image of Absolut Beirut, Creative Commons


Image of Absolut Sofia, Creative Commons


Image of Absolut Monterey, Creative Commons


Terms to Know
Aldous Huxley

Writer and experimental scientist whose credo was "The more you see, the more you know."


A sensory-based theory based on the idea that eye movements capture a visual outline and then the mind "constructs" understanding.

Huxley/Lester Model

Theory based on the work of Aldous Huxley and Paul Lester which stresses the importance of sensing, selecting and perceiving.

Paul Lester

Photographer and visual communications theorist whose theories stress the value of the study of the full gamut of media and media production techniques.


A relatively new theory which attempts to combine the best thinking from previous theories; Omniphasism means "all in balance", referring to its focus on the use of all abilities of the mind.