21 Sep 2022


The Principles of Perception in Gestalt Psychology

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Academic level: College

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Gestalt psychologists explain the phenomenon of perception in two ways. The first is perception as a process where we select a particular stimulus with our senses and interpret it. The other is the organization of many discrete stimuli observed by our visual field into meaningful forms than they initially appear. 


Proximity is the principle of perception, which refers to nearness. Objects, which are nearer to each other, make sense only by organizing them into groups. The eyes generally build relationships between elements of the same design. The brain interprets this based on the laws of visual perception. The properties of elements in proximity have the characteristics, uniform connectedness, and continuation. Uniform connectedness refers to the characteristics of color, lines, frames or shapes. Continuation, on the other hand, refers to the fact that the eyes follow lines, curves, or sequences to determine the continuity in design elements. 

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An example of the application of proximity is in reading. We can only read perceive words due to the proximity of letters and periods. For instance, the word “book” reads like so, as it has the individual letters nearby making up the whole word. The laws of proximity governing the letters apply the laws of true connectedness and continuation. 


The principle of similarity in perception states that objects, which share observable physical characteristics such as shape, color, texture, size, orientation or value, are part of a whole unit. Other elements with different visual resemblance are not eligible as part of the unit. This allows for the distinguishing of overlapping and adjacent stimuli in the visual perception. The principle of similarity employs the laws of uniform connectedness and continuity. 

The principle of similarity in perception is applicable in many areas. For instance, imagine dark clouds in the sky, which mean a likelihood of rainfall. White clouds, on the other hand, bring no rain. Here, the physical characteristic of dark clouds helps distinguish them from normal white clouds. In another example, it is more likely to consider identical twins as siblings than other normal siblings because identical twins look precisely similar. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). The Principles of Perception in Gestalt Psychology.


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