Episode 31: Lemon Slices and a New Face on Mars! Gestalt Principles at Work

MichaelBiopsychology, Critical Thinking, Perception, Uncategorized42 Comments

The gestalt principles of perception – how do they work? How do they explain the fact that we sometimes perceive strange things, and how we can appreciate works of art? In this episode I take a close look at why people see a lot of strange things around them – including me. We’ll see images on lemon slices, on Mars, and on building tops. You might be surprised to learn that these principles are used by website designers, people who work in user experience and the design of user interfaces.


Resources on Gestalt Principles

    • title= Click here or the image to the left to participate in an experiment I created for this episode. You can run this experiment on your friends, or even use it for a project in class. Have fun with it and let me know if you’ve got any feedback/suggestions. NOTE: The control condition is the “condition 1” button (random pictures which are unrelated to the man on the horse). The experimental condition is the “condition 2” button (pictures of animals which should help the viewer see the man on the horse in fewer steps than the viewers who were seeing random photos).

Here are a few sites which further explain some of the Gestalt principles of organization:

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42 Comments on “Episode 31: Lemon Slices and a New Face on Mars! Gestalt Principles at Work”

  1. Hey I think ur website is great but I think it needs a little proof of credibility, I can see you really know a lot about the subject but i think it would give it more prestige if you could add your name and your study level.

  2. Paula,

    Check the “About Michael” link under the “Pages” box at the top left. I put a brief bio there as well as a vita that lists my degrees, occupations, etc. You’ll see that I have a Ph.D. in psychology and I taught psych for 10 years at Marist College. I currently work in the area of instructional design at Pearson Education.


  3. I would like to get lemon slice and gestalt principles video. How can I get and use this in my class to show my students. It does not look like the cd you advertise has this specific thing on CD.
    I have an Ipod if that makes a difference at all. Would like to play them this video in class on a laptop onto a whiteboard.

  4. Thanks for your interest in the video. If you send me an email (see “About Michael”) with your address I’ll see if I can put the video on a CD and send it to you.


  5. hey :)!

    Thanks!!! I’ll be using your experiment in class on Monday. Will let u know the results:)!

    The videos are great too:)!

  6. Fauzia,

    You’re going to use the Man on a Horse experiment? Very cool. Yes – let me know how it goes.


  7. I think they where some great ideas that you came up with i will be using one of them myself


  9. Great slide show…but I couldn’t figure it out. My major is nursing and this is my first time taking psychology, it is very interesting, and a little tricky. I wanted you to know that I watched your video on learning the parts of the brain and it helped me alot. I am a visual person, I always have to draw pictures for test, but your way is the best I’ve ever seen. Thanks
    Uneika Mitchell

  10. Hi Michael, I just watched your podcast on the brain! awesome! wish we had this idea in college. I’m teaching intro to psych now and would love to show this mneumonic during class. Any ideas of how I would do that? I have great equipment. I usually take a flashdrive to class and use the computer there. let me know what you think.

  11. kkg: send me an email and let’s see what we can do. I think we can find a way to help you get the episode on your flashdrive. – Michael

  12. Hello
    I have been listening to you since high school and continue to do so during college. You’ve helped a lot with my psychology course!

  13. Michelle – whoa, you’re starting to make me feel old! 🙂 Thanks so much for letting me know and I’m glad the podcast is helpful to you. That’s what it’s all about for me. – Michael

  14. It is very strange that you see a face on Mars. I wonder is it a woman or man face.

  15. Hi Michael! I loved the examples in the video. I did have a little difficulty viewing the pictures. Until you showed the pictures in different ways. I never knew about Gesalt Perception, but I feel you’ve helped me to understand it. I feel as though the podcast is very informative as it relates to psychology.

  16. I also wanted to say thanks for breaking down Gesalt. Closure, Similarity, and Proximity. Every since I’ve watched the podcast I notice myself paying close attention to things that remind me of Gesalt Perception.

  17. Thanks for all the positive comments. It is amazing how often these Gestalt principles of perception come into play in our daily lives. I was thinking about this the other day when I was looking at someone’s handwritten notes – like a lot of people’s handwriting, there were lots of unclosed letters, yet we can make out the full words because of this idea of closure. Well, glad you’re enjoying the podcast!

  18. Hello Michael,
    I thought this was a great video and it really got my mind to thinking. Some of the images I didn’t see at first but when you zoomed or gave a close up I saw them. I didn’t realize as humans how much our brains works but you brought it to my attention. LOVED IT!


  20. Gwashayla and Daisy: glad to hear that you’re enjoying the site and the podcast. Thanks for the comment!

  21. i only saw the old lady and no matter how hard i tried i couldnt see the young one

  22. Hi Michael,
    Can you provide more techniques for memorization and organization of Basic Psychological principles. It will be of great help 🙂

  23. Rajshkehar: there are quite a few episodes on memorization techniques. Click on the link in the right navigation area called “Search Using Keywords” and then find the word “Mnemonics” and click on it.

  24. Thanks for the explanation, that explains why sometime when I stare at the moon, I see images like the face of a person…. it’s just my perception at work.

  25. Hola Michael, I love your videos and the way you teach. English is my second language therefore it is very hard for me to learn this new vocabulary. I was trying to memorize the parts of the brain, it was really hard, but I saw your videos in you tube and now I am able to remember!!! Thank you, Thank you very much! You are great !!!


  26. Thanks Adebola and Carmengloria. I listen to a podcast just to help me learn the language too, so I’m glad I could help out in this way. Appreciate your encouragement.

  27. so im a high school student interested in learning psych. currently we are going over perception and illusions, any tips or something so i can better understand how perceptions work and how illusions work?

  28. I learned Erikson’s eight stages of human development through your mnemonics video. I’m amazed at how effective it is. Thank you, Maxine

  29. Hi, i really enjoyed your segment it really opened a door in mind. I really makes me remember reading the back of the apple jacks box.

  30. Wow this is really useful! Thanks to my teacher and stuff on this website, I think I will do good on the AP Psych test later on!

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  33. Hi Michael, I really enjoyed the video it helped me to learn about certain things I never knew anything about the video was very helpful thanks a lot.

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