Gestalt Psychology and Perception

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Gestalt psychology was founded by German thinkers Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler and Kurt Koffka. They mainly focused on how people interpret the world around them. The Gestalt perspective formed partially as a response to the structuralism of Wilhelm Wundt, who focused on breaking down mental events and experiences to the smallest elements. Structuralists had failed in explaining the concept of ‘apparent motion’ and ‘illusory contours’.

Gestalt psychologists further recognized that structuralism could not explain many perceptual phenomena. In response, they proposed that perception is based on the organization of stimuli into holistic and meaningful forms. They are well-known for the phrase "the whole is different than the sum of its
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They assumed that, ‘the whole is more than its sum of its parts’. This explains that what is perceived has its own new properties that emerge from the organization that takes place. Organization in perception partially explains our perception of complex patterns as unitary form or objects. We see objects as objects only because grouping processes operate in perception.

Our perceptual experiences are filled with groups and patterns of stimuli, which are labeled as objects. The way the objects are perceived by people, comes into our awareness as shapes and patterns. Therefore they tend to organize sensory inputs into perception of simple patterns or objects. The reason for this is that, people do not ordinarily perceive the world around them as patches of colour, variation in brightness or through sounds, but perception of objects are due to learning.

Therefore, Gestalt psychologist has extensively studied the organizing tendencies in perception. They have given meaningful existence of such tendencies to strengthen their argument that the perceived world is not just the scene of simple sensory experiences. The principle that helps to explain how objects are organized and perceived includes the following:


According to Gestalt psychology, perception is about what happens to information as we process it, not just about the information itself. The law of

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