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# Gestalt principles

The Gestalt principles explain how our brains perceive patterns and organize information. These principles include the law of similarity, law of Pragnanz, law of proximity, law of continuity, and law of closure. Each law provides insight into how we group similar items, simplify complex shapes, group close objects, follow the smoothest path, and see incomplete figures as whole. Created by Ronald Sahyouni.

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• It seems like the circles for the Continuity example should all be the same colour, since this would probably have a greater effect on perceiving them as a group than the angle of curvature.
• True - I found it much more continuous, due to the color difference, rather than the angular difference.
• Is the law of closure a type of top-down processing method, or are the two unrelated?
• The law of closure is a top-down method. We are relying on our previous knowledge of the shape of a triangle to "fill in the blanks".
• This video leaves me confused about what is expected to prepare for the 2015MCAT. There were several Gestalt laws that were not covered in this video--what does this mean for my studying? Are these "extra" laws also test-able concepts?
• Probably they just wanted to cover the 'most important' laws. Everything is fair game on the MCAT, if it appears on the aamc review guide. However, don't concentrate on details, try to understand the concept and practice as much as you can. I took the old version, and on test day I realized that the test was all about test taking abilities and not so much on what I actually knew at that moment.
• It'd be interesting to see research that look at whether or not the law of Pragnanz (primarily) is inherent to all humans or if our environment has an effect on it. Would a person who lives in a jungle tribe, with no concept of what we consider to be a circle, also break it down into circles? Of course, they might have their own terms for circles, but they also don't have the same kind of educational systems compared to the rest of the world. Any thoughts on that?
• this is an interesting question. perhaps they would see a "circle" even though they can't identify the word, because they've probably seen many circular forms, and we want to break the imagine down into the simplest shapes.
• I'm just a little confused. Ron defined the Law of Continuity as "Lines are seen as following the smoothest path." However, most resources I've read define the smoothest path phenomenon as the Law of Common Fate. The Law of Continuity is more often defined as the ability to perceive 2 or more distinct, individual objects even when they intersect. Sudden changes of directions in line pattern indicate a different path; however, that is different from lines following the smoothest path. Am I getting this right?
• I think that the Law of Common Fate deals more with motion.

From Wikipedia:

Law of Common Fate—The law of common fate states that objects are perceived as lines that move along the smoothest path. Experiments using the visual sensory modality found that movement of elements of an object produce paths that individuals perceive that the objects are on. We perceive elements of objects to have trends of motion, which indicate the path that the object is on. The law of continuity implies the grouping together of objects that have the same trend of motion and are therefore on the same path. For example, if there are an array of dots and half the dots are moving upward while the other half are moving downward, we would perceive the upward moving dots and the downward moving dots as two distinct units.

There's a couple of nice examples over here. https://psychlopedia.wikispaces.com/Law+of+Common+Fate

We see a school of fish as a large group when they're swimming in the sea, rather than the fish as individual fish. There's a nice animated GIF of some dots on that page :)

Law of Continuity—The law of continuity states that elements of objects tend to be grouped together, and therefore integrated into perceptual wholes if they are aligned within an object. In cases where there is an intersection between objects, individuals tend to perceive the two objects as two single uninterrupted entities. Stimuli remain distinct even with overlap. We are less likely to group elements with sharp abrupt directional changes as being one object

Example: http://oi65.tinypic.com/2nkhquf.jpg
Here's a better example because all the dots are black, so we don't need to worry about colour as a confound.
• Hey there, according to the Kaplan MCAT prep textbook your last example was suppose to be for the "subjective contours". This is not in the list. I was wondering whether you can explain that once again?
• It seems like atleast a few of these Principles overlap. Is it correct to assume that they are not mutually exclusive?
• They definitely do overlap. I guess that's what makes this concept tricky. I was just going over the law of continuity, and similarity and proximity also come into play (we see dots heading upward in a continuous direction partly because they're all very similarly sized dots, and because they're all close to each other). I'm a little apprehensive about this topic because we might not interpret the question in the same way as the test-makers.
• In the last example around about closure, doesn't that image apply to another Gestalt Principle called subjective contours? He even mentioned "contour". Or is it that since I can also fill in the blank and know it's a triangle, the example can be used for both principles: Contours and Closure. An early thanks to those who answer my question!