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Icon expression

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.

Singular icon

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.

Linear orientation

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.

Clustered icons

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.

Orbital orientation

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.

Mirrored icons

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.


About your icon arrangement


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: 

Further reading

More about Otto Neurath and Isotypes / universal symbols or picture language, available here

Visualogical has provided all analysis, references and source material

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