Psychology 1000 - lecture 6 - s, p + c iii. We have an un-learned capacity, ability and thus tendency to organize incoming sensations into patterns. Those patterns are technically called gestalts meaning forms or wholes . Figure ground: we have an innate ability to be able to distinguish an object or event by its background. The object is referred to as figure, background referred to as ground. Characteristics: figure has some shape or boundary quality. The ground tends to be formless, continuous, behind or underneath a figure. Reversible figure-ground: when figure and ground cant be distinguished. We are able to distinguish figure from ground because of contour. Principle of contour: marked change in aspect or aspects of incoming stimulation. Law of similarity: we tend to group incoming stimuli on the basis of similarity to each other. Law of symmetry: we tend to group incoming stimuli in a pleasing or symmetrical configuration.