top of page

A very large cohort of Carleton students helped to study the use of gestalt principles like similarity, proximity, and closure on various populations, including high school kids with autism (David Steefel-Moore and Anushka Patel), college students, toddlers, and tamarin monkeys (Katie Whillock, Hera Kim, Julia Greenberg, Kate Jones, Ally Shaw, DeeDee Rupert, Jackie Gauer and Aisha Kudura). For all, a 4-item card was shown in each trial, and the subject was asked to touch the “odd” item in the set.


In training, the odd item was just a different shape (like a rose against a bunch of houses). In testing, single feature changes, like a shift in the location of a single dot, or gestalt properties, like a line made of dots vs a diagonal line made of dots, were used to test the speed and accuracy of finding the odd item. Children with autism categorized as low functioning, typically developing toddlers, and adult tamarins scored equivalently on single feature changes and gestalt changes, making more errors. Adult college students and children with autism who were high functioning favored gestalt principles and responded faster and better-used grouping principles. This indicates another anomaly with tamarins shared with younger humans and autistic humans — the lack of application of gestalt principles reliably.

Read the article published on gestalt processing (2014).

CITATION: Neiworth, J. J., Whillock, K. M., Kim, S. H., Greenberg, J. R., Jones, K. B., Patel, A. R., Steefel-Moore, D. L., Shaw, A. J., Rupert, D. D., Gauer, J. L., & Kudura, A. G. (2014). Gestalt principle use in college students, children with autism, toddlers (Homo sapiens), and cotton top tamarins (Saguinus oedipus). Journal of comparative psychology (Washington, D.C. : 1983), 128(2), 188–198.

bottom of page