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Closure

 

Explanations > Perception > Gestalt Theory > Closure

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

Given incomplete information, we send to seek completion, filling in bits which do not actually exist.

In visual images, this particularly includes the extension of lines to form an unbroken outline of an object.

Example

In the picture, you may well see circles. Even as less information is given, with less line, circles may still be perceived, although looking at D by itself may prove challenging.

 

Discussion

When looking at things in the real world, they may well be partially obscured, such as when a person is standing behind someone else. We still need to recognize and name them, and so we have developed the ability to complete incomplete images.

We do this in the process of recognition through pattern matching. When we see something that is a 'good enough' match to patterns we have in memory, our minds kindly fill in the gaps and tell us that it is a complete object. This is often very helpful, although it can also lead to confusion when the assumed shape is not what we thought it was.

A force that creates this is the need for completion, whereby we feel uncomfortable until outstanding uncertainties are resolved. This drives us to fill in detail, often at a subconscious level, but possibly also consciously.

So what?

It is often possible to show partial information and let the other person fill in the details. In this way, you can combine simplicity with a richer implied detail. It may also be useful to play at the edge of recognition, creating deliberate confusion that makes the other person more open to suggestion.

See also

Zeigarnik effect, Closure principle, Completion principle

 

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