Gestalt Laws in Advertising

Gestalt psychologists are concerned with how the human mind perceives objects and through their research the Gestalt Laws of Organization were formed. The 6 Gestalt laws of organization are proximity, similarity, good continuation, connectedness, common fate and pragnanz. These principles are used in advertising and marketing with the intent of influencing the potential buyer by way of their perception. The video linked here provides great examples of the use of Gestalt laws in advertising and is also very pleasing to the eye. In reading about this topic I was amazed by how often evidence of the use of these laws is apparent in our everyday lives. I’d like to examine two of these laws, the law of proximity and the law of similarity and how they are used in advertising and marketing.

I’ll begin with the law of proximity which states that our minds will group things together if they are near one another. An example of how this law is used in advertising is when a product is presented by or next to a celebrity or famous figure. In viewing this, we will perceive the product and the celebrity as being grouped together influencing us to purchase the product. When I was in junior high school (many, many years ago) Brooke Shields was the model in the ads for Calvin Klein jeans. We all wanted to wear Calvin Klein’s because we were grouping together the famous Brooke Shields and that brand of jeans. It was very effective advertising in the 1980’s!

The law of proximity is also used in marketing in grocery and retail stores. Marketing experts know that when items for sale are near one another our minds will perceive them as being a group. For example, have you ever noticed a rack of Hollandaise Sauce mixes hanging next to the asparagus in the produce department of your grocery store? This is the use of proximity in marketing as when we set out to buy asparagus and see the Hollandaise our minds link them together and we are encouraged to buy both. The law of proximity is not the only Gestalt law employed by sales and marketing professionals.

The Gestalt law of similarity is also used in advertising. This law states that our minds will group things together that are similar in appearance. An illustration of when this law can be seen in advertising that comes to my mind is an Avon sales catalog. When looking through the catalog the items, the lipsticks or nail polishes for example, are of similar shape and size and are displayed on the same page which leads our mind to perceive that they are a group and attempts to influences us to purchase them all rather than just one. This method must be successful to some extent as Avon has been around for a long, long time!

The use of Gestalt principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts is evident in so much of the advertising and marketing of consumer products that surrounds us on a daily basis. Unless we are made aware of it these concepts often go unnoticed by most of us. The next time you see an ad for blue jeans, look at an Avon catalog or walk through the produce department of your local grocery store keep in mind the research and effort that is put in to your perception of the products offered for sale. I’m sure you will recognize evidence of the use of the Gestalt laws of organization everywhere.




Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (3rd ed.). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning

Gestalt principles of form perception. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2015, from

Effective Use of Gestalt Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved January 30, 2015, from





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