The Gestalt psychology of perception

An interesting piece on Classilog ponders our assumptions about the nature or reality of thing we perceive (or imagine). Gestalt psychology is very interesting in a simulation concept, since it describes ways in which we make assumptions based on limited data.

Sorry not to have blogged for ten days – working hard on my own simulation application – but Mark Barkers comment is so fundamental I couldnt pass it by. Ive already mentioned the binding problem; Mark draws my attention to the Gestalt laws.

Incidentally I differ from Mark over interpreting the law of Praegnanz. Wikipedia says: “This law says that we try to experience things in as good a gestalt way as possible. In this sense, “good” can mean several things, such as regular, orderly, simplistic, symmetrical, etc.” I would rephrase this as given a set of inputs, we try to make them into something that we can recognise. In other words, we accept siimulation on a computer screen or elsewhere, and after a while our minds accept this as being reality.

I had an aunt who used to work in a woollen mill. This was years ago and before noise was recognised as an industrial health issue. I went to see her there once, as a young child. The noise inside the mill was appalling: it hit you like a solid wall as you went in. Of course my aunt was deaf. But she said that inside the factory, the workers could talk to each other almost normally: they didnt notice the noise. Presumably they were actually lip-reading, and gesturing, and guessing what each other was saying. The Law of Praegnanz would perhaps say that they reassembled these cues, to make a pattern which their minds chose to regard as normal speech. Outside the mill it was more difficult to do this because most people could hear normally, so the paradox that outside the mill she was deaf, but inside she could hear.

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