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Gestalt Principles. Gurpreet. What are the Gestalt Principles?.

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what are the gestalt principles
What are the Gestalt Principles?

Gestalt is a psychological term which means ‘unified whole’. It was discovered by the German psychologists in the 1920’s and refers to the visual perceptions. There are four cues in the Gestalt Principle; closure, proximity, similarity and figure-ground. Gestalt principles refer to how humans try to group visual elements.


Closure is the tendency to fill up or close up gaps in a visual image to see a whole image. If enough of the shape is indicated, humans perceive the whole image by filling in the missing information.

In each of these pictures, we are closing up the black and white gaps to view an entire image.


Proximity refers to the nearness between objects. Humans perceive parts of a visual image which are positioned close as belonging in a group.

In thefirst image, we have to differentiate between the fingers and the pebbles because of the proximity between them. Whereas the second image, they are unevenly spread out so there is no entire image we can view.


Similarity is the tendency to perceive parts of a visual image that have similar features. We usually perceive them as a group or a pattern.

Though none of the shapes in this picture are joined, we perceive the image as a whole group of patterns to see an image. Here we see the head of an eagle surrounded by triangular spokes representing the sun.

figure ground

Figure-ground is when something stands out against a different background. It is out perceptual tendency to separate whole figures from their backgrounds depending on the variability of the background, e.g. its colour, shape, size etc.

Here we see either a circle, or a larger or smaller square. Depending on which one we pay more attention too, we will see that image as our figure and the other as our ground.