Gestalt principles | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy


Voiceover: Imagine that
you’re sitting at home and you’re watching a
basketball game on your TV. What you’re actually seeing are a bunch of still images put in front of one another and what you’re doing is
taking those still images and putting them together in your head and basically telling yourself that you’re watching a fluid
realistic basketball game. How was it that we’re able to do this? This is what the gestalt principles basically attempt to address. Gestalt principles. The gestalt principles
basically seek to explain how we perceive things the way we do. Why is it that we don’t tell ourselves hey, the basketball is
just a bunch of pictures but rather that it’s a fluid realistic representation of a basketball game? There are several different laws or principles that the
gestaltist came up with and we’re gonna look at each one of these and look in an example. Over here we’re gonna look at the law and over here we’re gonna
write down the definition. The first law or gestalt principle is the law of similarity. Law of similarity. The law of similarity basically says the items that are similar to one another are grouped together by your brain. Grouped together. What does this mean? Let’s look at an example. In this example you can see that there are squares
and there are circles. Basically there’s a square
here, there’s a circle here and so on and so forth. Maybe the first thing that you noticed was that this image looks like there were a bunch of
squares on top of one another and a bunch of circles
on top of one another. In other words your brain
naturally noticed a pattern. It naturally notice that the squares created these vertical
column and these … Sorry, these circles
created this vertical column and these squares created
these vertical column. Your brain naturally
organized this picture in vertical columns rather than in this
longer horizontal columns. This is what the first
gestalt principle is saying is that things that are
similar to one another, so circles will be grouped
together by your brain. The second gestalt principle
is the law of Pragnanz. Pragnanz. This basically says that reality is often organized or reduced to the simplest form possible. Reality is reduced to simplest form. What do I mean by this? Let’s look at an example again here. Here you see five circles that are juxtaposed on top of one another. What the law of Pragnanz basically says is that we look a this image and what we do is break
it down into five circles. Here’s one circle, here’s two circles. Why is it that we don’t break it down into more complex shapes so
we could look at this object and say okay, here’s this weird diamondy ovally shape over here and then there’s a semi circle over here, and then we’ve got … Or you could say here’s one line and then here’s another line. We can look at this and break it down into much more complicated
shapes but we don’t. We look at it and we just notice that here’s a circle and here’s another circle and they’re on top of one another. We’re basically looking at this fairly complex set of lines and reducing it down to its simplest form which is five circles
juxtaposed on top of one another rather than more complex shapes that are coming together
to form this image. The third gestalt principle or law is the law of proximity. Law of proximity. This basically says that objects that are close to one another are grouped together. Grouped together. Let’s look at an example
for the law of proximity. Over here we see a bunch of circles. When you look at this image you naturally notice this pattern, rectangular pattern of circles and you notice this other
rectangular horizontal pattern of circles. These circles are grouped closer together than this set of circles right here. Basically your brain … Let me just erase this so you can see. Why is it that we didn’t just look at this set of circles and
kind of put them together? That’s because these
circles are closer together than these ones are. There’s more of a distance here between the circles
than there is over here. Smaller distance. We naturally look at the distance. We naturally look at how
close different objects are and group the ones that are really close
to one another together. The next law is the law of continuity. The law of continuity basically says that lines are seen as
following the smoothest path. Lines are seen as following the smoothest path. Let’s look at an example. In this example we see
again a bunch of circles. When you look at these you kind of notice that
there’s this continuous flow in this set of circles
rather than a flow this way. That’s because the angle here is much less steep than this angle. Your brain naturally
draws this line over here and notices that these
circles are continuous whereas these ones are a
little bit discontinuous. Another thing that your brain does when you’re looking at this image is that it basically takes these circles and organizes them as one entity. It puts them together and notices a pattern that hey, these circles are
forming this continuous line and it puts together and
you group these circles in one category, in one mental category than these guys over here that are in their own separate category. That’s what the law of
continuity basically says. The final law or gestalt principle is the law of closure. Law of closure. Basically this is just saying that the objects grouped together
are seen as a whole. We ignore gaps and complete contour lines. Let me just write down the definition. Objects grouped together are seen as a whole. Let’s look at an example. Over here we see this angle over here, we see this angle, we see this weird Pacman-looking semi circle thing. Your mind naturally
fills in this triangle. I don’t know if you guys saw this but there’s like this triangle here. There are gaps and your mind naturally fills in the gaps. It fills in the contour lines and you perceive this triangle. Let me just go ahead and remove that. You can see that even though there isn’t actually any
triangles in this image your brain is telling you
hey, there’s a triangle. You’re noticing this triangle. That’s what the law of
closure is basically saying is that your mind is filling
the missing information to create familiar shapes and images.

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