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Gestalt Principles of Perception: Similiarity

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Similarity, Proximity & Continuity

Gestalt Principle: Similarity [1]

Similarity-ColorThe principle of similarity states that things which share visual characteristics such as shape, size, color, texture, value or orientation will be seen as belonging together.

In the example to the right, the two filled lines gives our eyes the impression of two horizontal lines, even though all the circles are equidistant from each other.

Size Similarity



In the example to the left, the larger circles appear to belong together because of the similiarity in size.


Gestalt Principle: Proximity or Contiguity [

ProximityThe principle of proximity or contiguity states that things which are closer together will be seen as belonging together. Looking at the picture to the right, since the horizontal rows of circles are closer together than the vertical columns, we perceive two vertical lines. Since the first two columns and the last two columns have less space between them than the center two columns, we perceive two groups of two columns.


Gestalt Principle: Continuity [


The principle of continuity predicts the preference for continuous figures. We perceive the figure as two crossed lines instead of 4 lines meeting at the center.


[1] All figures adapted from examples in: Mullet, K. & Sano, D. (1995). Designing visual interfaces: Communication oriented techniques. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.  

Theory:[Classic Graphic Design Theory] [Gestalt Theory of Perception] [Human Computer Interface Design]

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