The Law of Element Connectedness | Best Web Design

The Law of Element Connectedness

design principles

The law of element connectedness represents one of three Gestalt grouping laws added by Stephen Palmer to the existing laws. This particular law identifies the perceptual tendency to group elements when they are connected.

By connecting six of the squares with straight lines, we view these visual elements as distinct from the rest of the arrangement and grouped together. If we were to remove the straight lines, the six squares would simply appear as part of one large group.

Connecting objects in this way not only leads us to assume they are grouped, but we see them as distinct from the rest of the display. Our eye is instantly drawn to the connected items and the other squares seem to be less significant; receding into the background of our view.

Prominent psychologists Stephen Palmer, Irvin Rock and Diane Beck (1992; 1997; 2007; 2008), observed the effect of connectedness on human perception and provided substantive research to demonstrate the existence of such a perceptual bias.

They identified the existing list of Gestalt principles of perceptual organisation did not account for this particular perceptual bias, and added the ‘Law of Element Connectedness’ accordingly.

The Importance of Element Connectedness

The law of element connectedness is important to human perception, as it allows us to focus our attention on specific elements in our visual field and filter out other, unconnected visual objects. An inability to detect groups when items are connected would have significant implications for human perception and our capacity to draw the correct conclusions from visual information.

For example, hanging clothes on an outdoor airer would be extremely difficult if we did not instantly perceive the poles as connected by the horizontal bars. Therefore, the law of element connectedness plays an important role in our everyday interactions with the world.

July 30, 2019

Design principles: Gestalt Psychology

Recognition of meaningful items, objects or any other visual element does not occur through a process of identifying and piecing together composite parts. […]