The Gestalt Principles

The word “Gestalt” means “figure”, “form” or “shape”. For the Gestaltist school of thinkers, an organised whole was more than the sum of its parts.

In other words, the Gestaltists believed that human perceivers search for whole forms in any perceptual endeavour. We seek coherence, order and meaning. We look for the complete entity that can be discerned in a stimulus, rather than focusing on the fragmentary elements that make up the visual scene.

Notice my teacup, for instance: you perceive it as a whole, connected object, not as a number of disjointed parts; yet the main component, the bowl shape, does not actually exist at the sensory level. There is nothing there for your sensory receptors to detect, yet your brain still manages to perceive it.

The Gestalts believed that our brains apply certain rules or principles in order to organise the elements from any visual scene or stimulus into a cohesive whole. 

Revision quiz on eye structures and their functions

Quiz on the Gestaltists and their main principles

♦ Kahoot on sensation and perception: Preview Mode | Class Mode

To go further:

An absorbing account of the Gestalt principles and their applications in art, advertising and design