The Gestalt Principles of Similarity and Proximity Apply to Both the Haptic and Visual Grouping of Elements

Chang, D., Nesbitt, K.V. and Wilkins, K.

    When designing multi-sensory displays it is necessary to consider human perceptual capabilities and understand how people find patterns and how they organise individual elements into structures and groups. Gestalt theory, originally described in 1910, attempts to explain the way people perceive and recognise patterns. The early studies of Gestalt principles of grouping were predominantly concerned with visual perception, although more recently they have been investigated for auditory perception. This paper focuses on how individuals use the sense of touch (haptics) to group display elements using the Gestalt principles of similarity and proximity. A direct comparison is made with the visual grouping of elements using the same two principles of similarity and proximity. The hypothesis of the experiment described in this paper is that people will use touch to group display elements in the same way they group elements visually. Overall we found that a significant number of subjects used texture or colour to group the elements when there was an equal spacing between the elements. This supports our hypothesis that the principle of similarity is equally applicable for both visual (colour) and haptic (texture) grouping. Similarly, when subjects perceived an unequal spacing between the elements they used spatial position to determine groupings. These results support our hypothesis that the principle of proximity is also applicable for both visual and haptic grouping.
Cite as: Chang, D., Nesbitt, K.V. and Wilkins, K. (2007). The Gestalt Principles of Similarity and Proximity Apply to Both the Haptic and Visual Grouping of Elements. In Proc. Eighth Australasian User Interface Conference (AUIC2007), Ballarat, Australia. CRPIT, 64. Piekarski, W. and Plimmer, B., Eds. ACS. 79-86.
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