This article provides a practical explanation of the Gestalt psychology of Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, and Wolfgang Köhler. After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful psychological tool.

Gestalt Psychology: Principles, Theory And Gestalt Therapy

What is Gestalt Psychology?

‘Gestalt’ is originally a German word used to talk about the way something is put together, often translated as the ‘form’ or the whole. Gestalt psychology can be defined as a school of thought that originated in the 1920s and believes that the whole of an object or pattern is larger and more important than its parts. Gestalt psychology encourages us to see and treat the mind and behavior as a whole. This approach creates order in the chaos by combining loose information and looking for patterns.

Gestaltism / Gestalt Theory. An introduction to the psychology… | by Lukas  Oppermann | Medium

Gestalt psychology has also contributed to research into experience and perception. The aim was to understand how people give meaning to the world around them and how they find order in the disorder. According to Gestalt psychology, how people interpret what they see in the world around them depends on what they expect to see. They will look for patterns in what they see and experience.

Who are the founders of Gestalt psychology?

Gestalt psychology was developed in Germany in the early twentieth century by psychologist Max Wertheimer in collaboration with Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler. They met at the Psychological Institute of the University of Frankfurt, where Wertheimer worked as a professor and Koffka and Köhler were his assistants. At that university they also developed their own mindset, Gestalt psychology.

Wertheimer is known for a concept called the phi phenomenon. During his travels, he noticed at a train station that two separate flashing lights created the illusion of movement. Subsequently, Wertheimer became interested in the study of perception, which laid the foundation for his research into Gestalt psychology. With his research he responded to structuralism and the approach of psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, who was known for dividing psychological events into separate parts. However, Wertheimer felt that the parts were related and believed in looking at the human mind and behavior as a whole.


An experiment, similar to the experience Wertheimer had with the two flashing lights at the station, was the beginning of research into Gestalt psychology. For this experiment, Wertheimer and his colleagues Koffka and Köhler focused on the concept of ‘apparent movement’. They found that when two lights blink in quick succession, an illusion of continuous movement is created. Instead of two separate lights, the person sees one light that moves from the spot of the first light to the spot of the second light. This was another result that contributed to the Gestaltists’ belief that the human mind has a way of organizing based on seeing things as a whole rather than as separate parts.

What are the main principles of Gestalt psychology?

After Gestalt Psychology was established, co-founder Kurt Koffka published ‘Principles of Gestalt Psychology’ in which he explained Gestalt theory and its principles. The following gestalt psychology principles describe the way human perception works and how we assign meaning to objects and events.

Close proximity

This principle states that when the human eye sees elements that are placed close together, we consider these elements as a set or group. An example of this is the way we read a text. When letters are grouped together, our perception is that they form a word.


A second way in which people tend to group elements in their visual field is by looking for similarities. Elements that look alike are automatically grouped together. For example, when you watch a sports game and see people wearing the same color shirts, you see them as members of the same team.


Another part of Gestalt psychology is the principle of continuation, which states that the human eye prefers to see a continuous line or movement rather than separate elements. For example, when we see a sign on a building where a tree is partly in front of the letter x, we still recognize that letter and can read the sign without any problems. We see the continuity of the lines.


This principle explains that people have a preference for complete elements. When we see things that are incomplete, we can fill in missing information to see it as complete anyway. This principle is often applied in the advertising world. Advertisers come up with incomplete statements that people can then finish. With this approach, they hope to generate interest and engage their audience more.


The principle of figure and ground shows how people distinguish between figures and the ground in their visual field. The figure is the object that is central to our visual field, the ground is less present and is placed in the background. This explains how one person’s perception of an object or situation may differ from someone else’s: it depends on what is seen as the figure and what is seen as the ground. This principle was applied by the Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin, who experimented with optical illusions.

Common destination

Another principle of Gestalt psychology is that of common destiny. When the human eye sees elements moving together in a certain direction, they are usually considered as a group. An example of a common destination is seeing children running to the playground together, thus seeing them as a whole. It is possible to separate the elements when we do this consciously.

Pragnänz’s law

It is impossible to constantly spend time and energy on everything around us. We therefore tend to arrange the elements we see as simply as possible. The human mind prefers simplicity, so we try to simplify what we perceive. For example, when we see a car, we don’t need additional information to understand what we are looking at. This is called Pragnänz’s law. Pragnänz is a German word that can be translated as brevity.

law of pragnanz | The Law of Pragnanz is the tendency to int… | Flickr

In addition to the above principles that help us understand how human perception works, Gestalt theorists also recognize that the way we see the world is also influenced by other factors, such as personality, expectations and experiences.

Example of Gestalt Psychology

The example below is used to explain Gestalt psychology:
When there is no movement, people can still perceive movement, which was also the case with the two flashing lights that led to the phi phenomenon. For example, a film consists of a series of separate images, but by playing them in quick succession, we see a continuous movement that is not actually there. According to Gestalt psychologists, this is because our brains fill in the missing information. In this example, the missing information is the gaps between the images. This shows that the ‘whole’ plays a more important role in our brain than the sum of separate parts.

Application of Gestalt Psychology

Basic Psychology

Basic psychological processes, such as perception and attention, are strongly influenced by Gestalt psychology. These basic psychological processes are fundamental and are applied to practical matters. Developments within this research area are applied, for example, in programs to improve signage to prevent accidents. This is only possible with the knowledge we have about perception.


To be able to grab the attention of the public, people in communicative and creative fields work with Gestalt psychology. For people active as an artist, journalist or designer it is important to understand how the human mind interprets images. This knowledge can help them to produce works that convey the right message to their target audience.


In order to solve a problem, you must first understand it. Gestalt psychology believes that a problem consists of parts that are related and interact with each other. To fix the problem, rearrange these parts so that you can see a new solution. This creative rearrangement of the parts of a problem is called productive thinking. Gestalt psychologists recommend applying productive thinking when addressing various challenges.


Within education, Gestalt psychology is applied to perception and problem solving. The application of gestalt psychology in education states that teachers should encourage their students to solve a problem by looking at the different parts of a problem and the interrelationships.


Gestalt psychology-based therapy is a humanistic approach in which people are seen as strong and independent beings. It looks at the functioning of the human mind from a holistic perspective where each person has his or her own thoughts, experiences and reality.

The development of Gestalt therapy began in the 1940s with psychiatrist Fritz Perls. He argued that each person has his or her own reality that is determined by our own perception, and that it is our responsibility to change our perception. This way of thinking forms the basis of Gestalt therapy, in which personal growth and identity building are central.

The Gestalt Institute in Cleveland

The Gestalt Institute in Cleveland attracts people from all over the world. The institute organizes workshops and training programs based on Gestalt principles and methodologies. The workshops and training programs focus on change, both at the individual and organizational level.

Why Your Design Works or Some Laws in Gestalt Psychology - DEV

Daily practice

Gestalt psychology can also be applied to daily practice. As indicated in this article, Gestalt psychology can be used to solve problems and stimulate creativity. In addition, being aware of Gestalt principles helps us to understand how we perceive the world, how optical illusions work and to understand our own behavior.

Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Do you understand the explanation of Gestalt psychology? Do you recognize the principles in the way you perceive things yourself? Do you recognize Gestalt psychology in the way the people around you perceive the world? Is there any way you could apply Gestalt psychology in your work or study? Are there situations where you do not perceive objects or events as a whole? Do you have any comments or tips?

Share your knowledge and experience via the comment field at the bottom of this article.

If you found the article useful or practical for your own knowledge, please share it with your network. Thank you very much in advanced.


What will our world look like in five years time? 2025

Keshet Starts Teasing Top-Secret New Reality Show '2025' – Variety

The world after COVID-19 will look very different in the days, months and years that follow one of the greatest crises of our time. In this blog I am going to share predictions about a world after the corona virus. Every facet of our society is currently being affected, such as politics, the economy, business and technology. With all its consequences.

What Technology Will Look Like In Five Years | TechCrunch

We do not know how long the current restrictions will last, but it is clear that COVID-19 is changing a lot. A lot of organizations around the world are doing research and make their own predictions, what the corona crisis will ultimately mean for government, healthcare, education, retail and the travel and technology industries. There are lots of report already rolling on the internet all written from a future perspective, which looks at the state of affairs in 2025. The changes that are expected will occur in the years after the pandemic.

The world of me and you in 2025
Some predictions are technical, such as body scans of visitors to a building or event, the creation of a ‘Health Security Agency’ and a future virtual workforce. Other predictions are more diverse, such as tackling the costs of aging, creating a more sustainable future and giving up privacy for the common good.

InsurTech in 2025: Will it Fade or Dominate? - Strategy Meets Action

I gathered nine contemplative predictions which you can read about here:

  1. The online Big Bang: The development around user experience will connect seamlessly with collaboration platforms such as Muzzle and Trello . The use of Mixed Reality (MR) can also get a big boost if companies design virtual workplaces like The Wild or hub cultures like Emerald City .
  2.  Working from home becomes the norm: Working remotely becomes the norm for most companies instead of the exception. In 2025, houses and apartments will be built or equipped with soundproofing, separate voice-controlled entrances and futuristic glass walls on which we can work.
  3. Fewer business trips: There are a lot fewer business trips, because new technologies bridge the distance. Most business meetings and events are virtual and flight shame has increased significantly.
  4.  Health screening is everywhere: just as the TSA was formed in the US after 9/11, a Health Security Agency is being established to ensure that people travel healthily and move with an ‘OK2GO’ scan that is mandatory for everyone.
  5. Gaia and Greta:  Greta Thunberg forced the world to look at climate change, and now everyone knows the immediate impact of staying home. For example, fish can be seen in the water in Venice again because gondolas sail less and the amount of smog in China has decreased sharply.
  6. Human in the machine: multi-sensory virtual interaction has grown strongly due to the rise of haptic interfaces, such as gloves and full-body suits (such as Teslasuit or HaptX textiles ). These virtual reality interfaces make it possible for users to feel certain objects in real life. So we will not only be able to see and hear information on request, but also feel it.
  7. The Sacrifice of Privacy: Governments have recognized the long-term consequences of a permanent surveillance infrastructure, and the personal data that flows from it provides a new source of economic prosperity.
  8. Aging costs in a post-corona world: As the world’s population ages, Gerontechnology is emerging as a new area of ​​research. Gerona technology focuses on ensuring good health, social participation and independence of the elderly. This is achieved through research and the development of products and services that improve the quality of life. This reduces the costs of our global healthcare.
  9.  A cleaner regime: the fight against viruses is fought differently than before the corona crisis. Companies are introducing a general company hygiene policy and new startups like Blueland and Truman’s have made sustainable hygiene and cleaning sexy.

Both the future of work and the future of Everything that is happening in our society, at the moment Technology is at the heart of the recovery from the crisis, but there will also be unexpected consequences. It remains to be seen how governments, education, business and health care are recovering worldwide to serve a new world order.


Best Case Scenario Climate 2050

Image result for climate

Two founders of the Paris Climate Agreement and chief UN negotiators, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, released the book The Future We Choose on 25 February 2020. In it they outline, among other things, a scenario of a future world that they believe we should create. The translation of the book appeared on February 27: We determine the future. Team Blogzynergy shares some passages from this ‘best case scenario’ for the climate in 2050.

The world we have to create

It is 2050. We have managed to halve emissions every decade since 2020. We are on our way to a world that will be no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer in 2100.

In most places in the world the air is humid and fresh, even in cities. It looks like you are walking in a forest and you probably do that too. The air is cleaner than it has been since the industrial revolution. For that you have to thank the trees. They are everywhere.

Afforestation was not the only solution, but the trees gave us the time we needed to overcome carbon emissions. Donations from companies and individuals provided funding for the largest tree planting campaign ever. When we started, it was purely practical, a tactic to combat climate change by moving the carbon: the trees removed the carbon dioxide from the air, separated oxygen and returned the carbon where it belongs: into the ground. Of course this helps to reduce climate change, but there were more benefits. At every sensory level, the feeling of living on what has again become a green planet has changed completely, especially in cities. Cities have never been so good to live in. With more trees and much fewer cars, it has proved possible to make entire streets suitable for urban agriculture and playgrounds for children. Every empty spot and every dark, dead-end alley has been given a new purpose and is now planted with a shady grove. A vegetable or flower garden has been installed on every roof. Blind walls that were once filled with graffiti are now covered with green climbing plants.

For the developed countries, the general change that required a shift to renewable energy was sometimes an uncomfortable transition, as old infrastructure often had to be adjusted and old things had to be done in new ways. But for the developing countries it marked the beginning of a new era. The majority of the infrastructure needed for economic growth and poverty reduction was built according to the new standards: low carbon emissions and a high capacity for recovery. In remote areas, the billion people who did not have electricity at the start of the 21st century now get energy from the solar collectors on their own roof or from jointly managed wind turbines. This new access opened the door for so much more. Large population groups have made a leap towards improved sanitation, education and health care. People who only had trouble getting clean water can now provide the entire family with it. Children can also learn in the evening. Hospitals can now also work efficiently in remote areas.

Construction works all over the world make more of what they need than just electricity. All buildings collect rainwater and manage their own water use. With sustainable electricity sources, local desalination became possible, which means that clean drinking water can now be produced wherever needed in the world. We also use this water for hydroponics (growing plants on water to which nutrients have been added), flushing the toilet and for the shower. We have successfully rebuilt, organized and structured our lives to live more locally. Although energy prices have fallen enormously, we still opt for life and work close to home rather than commuting. Thanks to the better connections, many people now also work at home,

We make communities stronger. As a child you may have seen the neighbors only fleetingly. But to make things cheaper, cleaner and more sustainable, every part of your life is now more locally designed. Things that you did alone are now being carried out jointly – growing vegetables, collecting rainwater, composting. Resources and responsibilities are now shared. At first you resisted this solidarity – you were used to doing things yourself and within the privacy of your own home. But soon the camaraderie and the unexpected new support network started to feel good, something to hold high. For most people, the new way of life has proven to be a better recipe for happiness.

International air traffic has changed completely. Biofuels have replaced kerosene. Communication technology is now so advanced that we can participate in meetings anywhere in the world without having to travel. Civil air traffic still exists, but is used much less and is extremely expensive. Thanks to the fact that a lot of work is becoming more and more decentralized and can be carried out almost anywhere, people save for their ‘big vacation’: international journeys of weeks or months instead of trips of a few days. If you live in Europe and want to visit the United States, you can even plan to stay a few months or longer and view the entire continent using local public transportation with zero emissions.

Although we have successfully reduced carbon dioxide emissions, we are still confronted with the effects of record levels in the atmosphere of the past. The poorly degrading greenhouse gases can go nowhere else than to our already highly polluted atmosphere and they cause increasing extreme weather conditions – albeit less than if we had continued to burn fossil fuels. Glaciers and polar ice are still melting and the sea level keeps rising. Severe droughts and desertification are taking place in areas such as the western United States, the Mediterranean and parts of China. The constant extreme weather and the decline of resources continue to reinforce existing differences in income, health, food security and water availability. But now governments have acknowledged the factors of climate change as the amplifiers of the threat they are. Thanks to that awareness, we are now able to predict problems and to fight them before they end up with humanitarian disasters. So while many people are still in danger every day, the situation is not as dramatic or chaotic as it could have been. The economies in developing countries are strong and surprising global coalitions have formed with a new sense of confidence. If a population needs help right now, there is political will and money available to give that help. Thanks to that awareness, we are now able to predict problems and to fight them before they end up with humanitarian disasters. So while many people are still in danger every day, the situation is not as dramatic or chaotic as it could have been. The economies in developing countries are strong and surprising global coalitions have formed with a new sense of confidence. If a population needs help right now, there is political will and money available to give that help. Thanks to that awareness, we are now able to predict problems and to fight them before they end up with humanitarian disasters. So while many people are still in danger every day, the situation is not as dramatic or chaotic as it could have been. The economies in developing countries are strong and surprising global coalitions have formed with a new sense of confidence. If a population needs help right now, there is political will and money available to give that help.

The refugee situation that has lasted for decades is still a source of disagreement and conflict. But fifteen years ago we stopped calling it a crisis. Countries agreed on guidelines for controlling the influx of refugees – on how to assimilate populations without problems, on how to distribute aid and money, and on how tasks should be distributed within a certain region. The agreements are adhered to most of the time, but occasionally problems arise when a country tends to fascism after a few elections.

The spirit of the times has also changed enormously. How we think about the world is now very different. And unexpectedly how we think about the other person.

When the alarm bells started to ring in 2020, mainly thanks to the youth, we realized that we had gone too far with our consumption, competition and greedy self-interest. Our dedication to those values ​​and our pursuit of profit and status had led us to deal with our environment like a steamroller. As a species, we continued uncontrollably, resulting in the near-demise of our world. We can no longer close our eyes to what is happening on a tangible, geophysical level, if you despise recovery, cooperation and a sense of community: imminent destruction.

To withdraw ourselves from this self-destruction would have been impossible if we had not shifted our mindset and priorities, if we had not realized that doing what is good for humanity goes hand in hand with doing what is good for the earth. The most fundamental change was that we, collectively, as governments, citizens and companies, started to adopt a new adage: “Is it good for humanity?”