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Jiawei Zhou, Carrie Gotch, Yifeng Zhou, Zili Liu; Perceiving an object in its context—is the context cultural or perceptual?. Journal of Vision 2008;8(12):2. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/8.12.2.
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S. Kitayama, S. Duffy, T. Kawamura, and J. T. Larsen (2003) found that East Asians, when shown a line inside a square, memorized more accurately the ratio of the line's length relative to the square than the line's absolute length, whereas North Americans showed the opposite results. Because of this study's important implications on cultural influence to visual perception, we attempted to replicate it in China and USA, without success. Our 120 participants as a whole estimated a line's relative length more accurately than its absolute length, regardless of culture. Our results can be explained by the advantage of an explicit frame of reference in the ratio estimation, an advantage well known in the literature. Namely, the square as a frame of reference is more useful in the relative than in the absolute estimation of the line's length when the size of square changed from study to recall.
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