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Gestalt Laws of Perception

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At the heart of Gestalt theory is the idea that our minds interpret sensory information in regular and predictable ways following certain “rules.”  These so-called Gestalt laws of perception are more like descriptions of mental shortcuts that allow us to perceive things quickly without consciously having to process vast amounts of information.

The concept of Pragnanz-meaning “conciseness” or “simplicity”-encapsulates the principle that underlies these laws: we perceive objects in a way that makes them appear as simple as possible.

Looking at the Olympics logo, for example, we immediately see five rings, and not a collection of complicated shapes and lines.  From this general rule others are derived:

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The law of similarity-we group similar objects;

The law of proximity-we group things that are close to each other;

The law of continuity-we perceive things in smooth lines as connected; and the law of closure-we fill in gaps in information, grouping things that look like parts of a single object.

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