Gestalt Principles & Concepts

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  • 0:01 Gestalt
  • 0:53 Six Laws of Gestalt Perception
  • 3:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michele Chism

Michele is presently a part time adjunct instructor at Faulkner University in the Counselor Education Department where she teaches Measurement and Assessment and Diagnosis and Treatment. I formerly taught at the University of West Alabama where I taught School Counseling and College Student Development Counseling. I was also the Student Success Coordinator for the College of Education.

In this lesson, we will learn about Gestalt principles and concepts. We will learn that we cannot always trust what we see. We will learn how our perception and reality may be very different.


Did you ever wonder why you see items in a picture that seem connected, whereupon a second look you see they are not? In this lesson, we will look at how things we see may not be as they are. The following theory describes how we tend to organize visual parts into groups or unified wholes when certain principles are applied. We tend to trust our eyesight to be accurate and reliable; however, ask a policeman at a crime scene how many different descriptions come from a set of witnesses who all saw the same event and people.

Gestalt is a term that means 'unified whole,' and it shows how people tend to organize what we see into groups when certain principles are applied. The leaves, branches, flowers, and fruit are all parts of a tree, but you tend to see the tree as a whole tree. The parts are only secondary to the whole.

Six Laws of Gestalt Perception

The fundamental principle of gestalt perception is the law of prägnanz, which says that we tend to order our experience in a manner that is regular, orderly, symmetric, and simple. Gestalt psychologists attempt to discover refinements of the law of prägnanz, and this involves writing down laws that allow us to predict the interpretation of sensation, which are often called Gestalt laws. There are six principles or laws of Gestalt perception:

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