To understand the orientation of icons in the Psyche-Selfie, we can borrow from Gestalt theory which tackles how we perceive patterns and shapes.
Gestalt theory is a school of psychology that emerged in Austria and Germany in the early 1900s.
The German word Gestalt translates as shape, and in psychology it refers to the theory that people perceive patterns, shapes and configurations, rather than individual elements.
We can use the different laws to understand how we perceive visuals and why we may have chosen certain orientation of icons in our Psyche-Selfies.
Gestalt's law of proximity
The law of proximity states that we tend to perceive elements (or icons) that are close together as a unified group. By choosing to keep an icon singular, rather than connected to a group, this would suggest the word it represents is something we do not have such a close relationship with, or are relatively unfamiliar with.
Gestalt's law of similarity
The law of similarity states that we group elements together if we are familiar with them. Icons in a line symbolise an ongoing presence in our lives. These icons might represent something that is continually part of or desired by our subconscious.
Gestalt's law of continuity
The law of continuity states that objects (or icons) are grouped together or clustered can be perceived as a whole. Where objects intersect or overlap, we tend to see them as interlinked or connected. This suggests an even stronger link between us and the concept, and that it has permeated our subconscious.
Gestalt's law of closure
Gestalt psychologists believe that we tend to perceive objects as complete rather than focusing on the gaps. So by choosing a circular arrangement of icons (or orbital orientation) we’ve created a complete shape which suggests encompassing and enveloping. So icons in this arrangement would suggest the concept provides comfort and completeness in our subconscious.
Gestalt's law of symmetry
The law of symmetry states that our mind perceives mirrored objects as forming around a focal point. Any icons arranged in a mirrored orientation suggest the concept is central and of great importance in our mind.
References for Gestalt laws of perceptual organization
Wagemans J, Elder JH, Kubovy M, et al. A century of Gestalt psychology in visual perception: I. Perceptual grouping and figure-ground organization. 2012. Psychological Bulletin, 138(6), 1172–1217. Available here: https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029333
More about Otto Neurath and Isotypes / universal symbols or picture language, available here
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