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The Gestalt Experiment

In Design Theory on February 3, 2010 at 4:20 am

Recently, we have been studying Gestalt theories in our class, and one of the projects was to conduct an experiment on three different individuals, one of them being a visual person. Each person was shown five different images (condition one), then another image with a group of black shapes. The participant will then try to figure out what all those shapes make. If the participant cannot point out the object being presented, the experimenter (myself) would press the forward button that causes the shapes to move. This goes on until the shapes have been moved 20 times, or until the participant can call out the object. Afterwards, the participant will be shown a different set of five images (condition two), and then go through the same process and see if the different images shown makes any different.

The three participants who I invited were a chef, a builder and a graphic designer. After the entire experiment, none of them was able to see the final object. However, the graphic designer asked during condition two if it was an animal (the second set of images were all animals).

Besides these three participants, I also conducted the same experiment on a group of 10 graphic design students. During condition one, several of them asked if it was a face, but none could tell what the final object was. During condition two, like the graphic designer participant, they asked if it was an animal. At click 16 in condition two, one saw a horse, and at click 17, another saw a rider on a horse, which was the correct answer.

It was interesting to me that the graphic design students had similar responses as the graphic designer. That told me that they were going the right direction in their career!

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