zondag 21 februari 2010

Gestallt psychology

Today i wan’t to discuss a principle of psychology which was subject of a cognitive psychology course during my study at the university. That is ‘Gestallt’ psychology or gestalism (German: essence or shape of an entity’s complete form). It’s a theory of mind and brain positing that the operational principle is holistic, parallel and analog, with self-organizing tendencies. The Gestalt effect refers to the form-forming capability of our senses. You can use the gestalt principles by the design of your reports, dashboards or whatever aid you’re using when presenting your information.

Below you can see some examples of gestallt principles:

Reification is the constructive or generative aspect of perception, by which the experienced percept contains more explicit spatial information than the sensory stimulus on which it is based.

For instance, a triangle will be perceived in picture A, although no triangle has actually been drawn. In pictures B and D the eye will recognize disparate shapes as "belonging" to a single shape, in C a complete three-dimensional shape is seen, where in actuality no such thing is drawn.

Emergence is the process of complex pattern formation from simpler rules. It demonstrated by the perception of the Dog Picture, which depicts a Dalmatian dog sniffing the ground in the shade of overhanging trees. The dog is not recognized by first identifying its parts (feet, ears, nose, tail, etc.), and then inferring the dog from those component parts. Instead, the dog is perceived as a whole, all at once.

The fundamental principle of gestalt perception is the law of prägnanz (German for pithiness) which says that we tend to order our experience in a manner that is regular, orderly, symmetric, and simple.

On the internet you can find all kind of these examples and tehy are quite interesting. Some examples are usable in your reports and some don't. For instance the example right here above is quite useful. By using colors boldness, italic you can implicitly suggest a relation between some information.

By ordering information which belongs together and splitting information which doesn't belong to each other you can increase readability.

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