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Gestalt Psychology: Definition, Principles and Perception

Gestalt psychology is based on the observation of the human mind and behavior as a unified whole. This school of psychological thought tries to make sense of the world around us and those little things that are not part of our simple sensations, because for this current, behavior cannot be limited only to what is observable and measurable.
It uses study methods developed by German psychologists in the 20th century and plays an important role in the study of human perception.

This psychological current was influenced and initiated by the German psychologist Max Wertheimer (1880-1943). He proposed the concept of the Phi phenomenon, in which flashing lights in sequence can lead to what is known as apparent motion. Other exponents of gestal psychology were: Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Koffka and Kurt Lewin.

Gestalt Psychology focuses on the positive aspects of our mind.  Unlike other currents such as psychoanalysis , Gestalt theories try to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into unified groups or sets.

History of Gestalt psychology

Gestalt psychology was founded by Max Wertheimer in collaboration with Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka (co-founders of Gestalt psychology). Wertheimer launched Gestalt psychology to investigate whether the way we perceive things differs from the sensations that compose them. He performed an experiment called the Phi phenomenon, an experiment in which two lights are turned on alternately at different speeds to assess human perception. It was believed that before this phenomenon, the subjects would experience two separate entities, but it was not.

What is the Phi phenomenon?

The phi phenomenon is a perceptual illusion of a visual nature. It intends that people see the movement produced by a succession of immobile images to evaluate their perception. Thanks to the connection between the brain and the visual organs ( nervous system ), the continuous movement of a series of images can be perceived. The illusion of smooth movement is created when the brain fills in missing information between successive images.

The experiment consists of placing a spectator in front of a screen, in which two images are projected in succession by the person carrying out the experiment. The first image shows a horizontal line on the left side of the screen, and the second shows a horizontal line on the right side of the screen. The investigator asks the viewer to describe what they saw after the images are quickly displayed in succession.

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Most of the subjects observed at one point a single line moving back and forth, but in reality this was a succession of the two images moving in different directions. After the data provided by the spectators, they are informed that the phi phenomenon is not an apparent movement of an object back and forth, but is the movement of two lines moving to opposite sides than with certain combinations of time and space. they manage to fool the brain and seem to come together to form a single line.

What is perception?

Perception is the process of recognizing and interpreting sensory stimuli. In this process, the subject takes sensory information from an object; According to the information obtained, the subject will manifest a reaction towards that object.

The way each subject perceives his environment is what makes him different from other animals and different from the rest. Perception allows you to take  sensory information and turn it into something meaningful. It is through sensory experiences that we interact and interpret things in our world.

Gestalt psychology principles

Gestalt psychology is based on 5 principles:

Similarity  principle : this principle occurs when the elements to be observed resemble each other. Observers usually group these similar items according to their color, shape, size, weight, etc.

Proximity Principle: Proximity occurs when items are placed together. These tend to be perceived as a unit. The spatial proximity determines the grouping of elements.

Principle of continuity: continuity occurs when objects are organized together forming an oriented flow; the eye is forced to move through one object and continue towards another object, therefore they are perceived as a whole.

Closing principle: closing occurs when an object is incomplete or the space is not closed. If figures not fully formed are shown but a sufficient amount of the shape is shown, the viewer can perceive and complete them.

Figure-ground principle : in this principle the eye differentiates an object from its area. A figure has a shape and contour unlike the background that is in the background and is diffuse.

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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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