Gestalt Psychology and Perception Essay

Gestalt Psychology and Perception Essay

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Gestalt psychology was founded by German thinkers Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka. They mainly focused on how people interpret the world around them. The Gestalt perspective formed partially as a response to the structuralism of Wilhelm Wundt, who focused on breaking down mental events and experiences to the smallest elements. Structuralists had failed in explaining the concept of ‘apparent motion’ and ‘illusory contours’.

Gestalt psychologists further recognized that structuralism could not explain many perceptual phenomena. In response, they proposed that perception is based on the organization of stimuli into holistic and meaningful forms. They are well-known for the phrase "the whole is different than the sum of its parts." They proposed several "laws" (really heuristics or "rules of thumb") that are referred to as the Gestalt laws of perceptual organization. These are discussed in the module later on.
3. GESTALT APPROACH TO PERCEPTION
The most concise way to characterize Gestalt psychology is to say that it deals with wholes and its given data are what have been called phenomena. It is because of their strong phenomenological orientation, which explains that wholes are experienced by conscious man and not in parts. For example, in perceiving a melody one gets a melodic form, not a string or a note, a unitary whole that is something more important than the total list of its parts. This is the way experience comes to man, organizing it into significant structured form.

Lets first understand the historical perceptive, from where its role started. While behaviorism was becoming the dominant psychological theory in the US, along with Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, the Gestalt perspective gained influence ...


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• Law of Proximity: this law states that items which are close together in space or time tend to be perceived as belonging together or forming an organized group.
• Law of Similarity: the law of similarity suggests that similar things tend to appear grouped together.
• Law of Continuity: holds that points that are connected by straight or curving lines are seen in a way that follows the smoothest path rather than seeing separate lines and angles.
• Law of Closure: according to the law of closure, things are grouped together if they seem to complete some entity. Our brains often ignore contradictory information and fill in the gaps in information.
• Law of Pragnanz: is sometimes referred to as the law of good figure or the law of simplicity. This law holds that objects in the environment are seen in a way that makes them appear as simple as possible.

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