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Jun Saiki, Yoshiyuki Ueda, Rai Chen, Jonathon Kopecky, Ronald Rensink, David Meyer, Shinobu Kitayama; Cultural differences in visual search with culturally neutral items. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):1254. doi: 10.1167/13.9.1254.
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© 2015 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
A growing number of studies in human cognition attribute the basis of cultural differences to attentional mechanisms, but few have directly investigated how it might be affected. Moreover, different kinds of conceptual distinctions such as analytic versus holistic and absolute versus relative style of processing have not been clearly distinguished. The analytic/holistic distinction is based on the structural aspect of perceptual representation, whereas the absolute/relative distinction involves evaluative aspect of perception. Furthermore, findings of cultural comparison studies using basic attentional tasks including visual search and eye movement have been equivocal, and those with visual search used culturally biased stimuli such as Chinese characters. In the current study, we provide evidence for a significant cultural difference between North American and Japanese participants in visual search with culturally neutral items, and investigated whether the difference is mediated by structural or evaluative aspect of perception. North American and Japanese participants searched for either a long line among short lines, or a short line among long lines. North American participants had a reliable search asymmetry: search for long lines among short lines was faster than vice versa. In contrast, Japanese participants had no such asymmetry —search for long lines among short lines was just as quick as short among long. If this difference reflects the structural aspect, namely analytic/holistic distinction, the search behavior should be sensitive to the item density. To test this hypothesis, the second experiment manipulated the density of stimulus items, and revealed that the difference in search asymmetry between cultures was not reliably affected by the density, indicating little difference in holistic processing between the two groups. Instead, our results suggest that—at least in visual search—differences exist in the style of stimulus evaluation, with Japanese relying more on relative than absolute stimulus values.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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