Law of Proximity
IDevice Icon Objective

After going through this session, you will be able to...

  • State Gestalt Law of proximity

In the 1920s, Gestalt psychologists began studying how we perceive the world around us. Their investigations of the various senses and how we create meaning through them led to the formulation of a series of principles. Gestalt principles aim to explain the rules according to which the perceptual input is organized into unitary forms.

Gestalt is a psychological term that means “unified whole”. According to Gestalt psychology, the whole is different than the sum of its parts.

IDevice Icon Exercise

The unified whole is different from the sum of the parts.



The Gestalt theorists were the first group of psychologists to systematically study perceptual organization around the 1920’s, in Germany. These theories attempted to describe how people tend to organize visuals into groups. Gestalt has listed principles of perception; let us examine them in detail.


Gestalt principles of perception:

      Law of proximity

IDevice Icon Reading Exercise

Fig 1                                          Fig 2

Look at these figures carefully and write down at least two lines on them.

The Gestalt law of proximity states that “when we perceive a collection of objects, we see objects close to each other as forming a group”. Even if the shapes, sizes and objects are completely different they appear as a group. Objects that are close together tend to be perceived as forming a figure. For example;


In this image, we tend to perceive two columns of four lines each rather than eight different lines. The lines are grouped together because of how close they are to each other.



In this image, the squares on the left side appear to be grouped in horizontal rows, whereas the squares on the right side appear to be grouped in vertical column.



Auditory rhythm  is also an example of the law of proximity. If we listen to, four drum beats, with a pause between the second and third, it will be heard as two pairs.

We hear the melody in music, but we feel the beat. We demonstrate that the perception of musical rhythm is a multisensory experience. The movement of the body, by bouncing on every second versus every third beat of an ambiguous auditory rhythm pattern, influences whether that auditory rhythm pattern is encoded in duple form or in triple form. In this case visual information is not necessary for the effect, but the beat is important.
iDevice icon Exercise
Read the statements below and fill in the missing words.

1. Gestalt psychologists began studying how we perceive the world around us in s.

2. Gestalt is a psychological term means .

3. The whole is different than the sum of its .

4. Objects that are tend to be perceived as forming a figure.


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