Gestalt Psychologists: the first to realize that perception involves organizing sensations.
To appreciate that the mind actively looks for patterns, watch this video).

If you want to have your mind blown by questioning whether there is a connection between perception and reality, you can watch this video (However, if you don't want to consider such a dark view, that's fine).

Definition of the German word Gestalt: organized whole, figure, form, pattern, structure, totality, group,  configuration.

Central principle/motto of Gestalt psychology: "The whole is different from the sum of the parts" (i.e., what we see is different from what's there).

Two interesting implications of the Gestalt principle that are not limited to perception

  1. This principle puts them in direct conflict with the early psychologists--the structuralists--who thought the perception (and the mind itself) was the sum of its parts. The structuralists' goal was to break the mind down into its basic elements.

  2. This Gestalt principle gives us some insights into creativity: Creativity often involves combining old ideas together in new ways. For example, wheels had been around for thousands of years and suitcases had been around for hundreds of years, but it wasn't until relatively recently that someone came up with the idea to put wheels on suitcases. To see for yourself how creativity can simply be the product of combining old ideas together in new combinations, generate an idea for a new type of credit card by

    choosing from each of the four characteristics below (this is a minor modification of  an exercise devised by Dr. Anthony Grasha).

    Method of Identification

Illusions demonstrate the Gestalt principle that "the whole is different from the sum of the parts" (i.e., that our mind doesn't reproduce reality but instead creates "reality")

  1. Fun examples of illusions
  2. The illusion that launched Gestalt Psychology: The phi-phenomenon
Time for a mini-quiz

Gestalt Psychologists Show Us How We Naturally Organize Our Sensations

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