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Psychology and Graphic Design

Category : Articles Mar 17th, 2011

The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that graphic designers get a broad liberal arts education, and specifically mentions courses in psychology. However, if you’re tired of taking classes, it might be difficult to motivate yourself to take one more. After all, you’ve already learned abut how color and shapes affect graphic design. So what could you learn in a psychology class at graphic design school to help you as a designer?

  • Gestalt Theory. Gestalt Theory posits that the whole is often more than the sum of its parts, since the human brain tends to seek completeness and will fills in gaps to achieve this. Graphic designers can use concepts such as continuity (the human brain tends to see patterns or lines with gaps as a whole rather than discontinuous) and closure (the brain tends to complete incomplete stimuli) to their advantage. For more information, read this post on Gestalt Theory.
  • Primacy and Recency. The Primacy and Recency Effects explain that the brain tends to remember the initial and final information of new stimuli. So if you’re making a list and you want the consumer to remember a couple of items particularly, put them at the beginning and end of your list.
  • Perception. Someone’s perception of your graphic design will depend not just on your design, but also on the person’s experience, attitude, and expectations. Learning about perception will help you know your audience and create a more effective design.

If your graphic design program doesn’t specifically include classes that cover pyschological aspects of design, consider taking a psychology class to round out your graphic design education.


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