Gestalt Theory

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Gestalt is a German word for "˜form' and as applied to Gestalt psychology it means "Unified whole"�. Hence, Gestalt psychology can be referred to as a school of psychology that studies how people perceive and experience objects as whole patterns. The essential points of Gestalt's psychology are, the idea of a good figure and the belief that, in perception, the whole is greater than its parts.

The statement "˜The whole is Greater than its parts' was used by several German psychologists using visual perception to describe the way people view patterns in nature. They discovered that we tend to spontaneously group smaller objects or elements into patterns depending on the "˜relations' that may exist with the other elements in the group. This relationship has been codified into the Gestalt Laws of Psychology.

Therefore, we can say that the fundamental "˜formulae' of Gestalt theory might be expressed this way; there are wholes, the behavior of which does that of their individual elements, not determine, but where the part-processes are themselves determined by the intrinsic nature of the whole.

One of the Laws to be mentioned in relation to Gestalt psychology is, the law of continuation.

According to Morris & Maisto (2001), Gestalt Law of continuity states that, items that continue a pattern or direction tend to be grouped together as part of the pattern. In other words in perception, we tend to continue contours whenever the elements of a pattern establish an implied direction. For example, the law of continuity tells us that we can blend into an object such as a tree if we can make ourselves look like a continuation of the existing pattern; that is, if we could blend with the tree. On the other hand, taking an example of a camouflaged jacket, which has a discontinued pattern...