The Gestalt effect refers to the form-forming capability of our senses (the word Gestalt in German literally means “shape” or “figure”), particularly with respect to the visual recognition of figures and whole forms instead of just a collection of simple lines and curves.
Basically, a bunch of psychologists spent lots of research to figure out how we view images and derive meaning from them.
Turns out, this research is very useful for thinking about photography. Jeff Curto put together two podcasts explaining the connections:
The four main visual ideas to add meaning to your photos are: