Friday, June 17, 2011

Testing the law of closure

Many people are aware of the Kanizsa Triangle. Here's how it works, as explained by

The Kanizsa Triangle illusion was first described in 1955 by an Italian psychologist named Gaetano Kanizsa. In the illusion, a white equilateral triangle can be seen in the image even though there is not actually a triangle there. The effect is caused by illusory or subject contours.

Gestalt psychologists use this illusion to describe the law of closure, one of the gestalt laws of perceptual organization. According to this principle, objects that are grouped together tend to be seen as being part of a whole. We tend to ignore gaps and perceive the contour lines in order to make the image appear as a cohesive whole.


Kanizsa, G. (1955). Margini quasi-percettivi in campi con stimolazione omogenea. Rivista di Psicologia 49(1): 7–30.

Let's see what happens when we remove the "PAC-MAN" figures. I don't know about you, but for me the law of closure does not work to connect the three angles into a triangle.

But now, let's do the opposite, removing the angles and just keeping the PAC-MAN figures. Look!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ok, great, Paul! Now let's label them. Science. Business. Medicine.

Who is working in the white space? And shouldn't they get the raise?

Jesse said...

Fun optical illusion…