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Diyu Chen, Yuhong V. Jiang; Culture and visual context learning. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):800. doi: 10.1167/7.9.800.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Recent research by Nisbett and colleagues suggests that visual perception differs significantly across cultures, with European descendents attending more to individual objects and East Asians attending more to the context. This study investigates cultural differences in visual tasks requiring explicit memory, explicit context learning, or implicit context learning. We tested European descendents who grew up in the US, and East Asians who grew up in China and had been in the US for less than 2 months. In the explicit picture memory task, participants judged the likeability of animals presented against a background. Explicit recognition of the animals was later tested. We confirmed that a new background presented during testing tended to impair East Asians' recognition of the central animals more than it did on European descendents. In an explicit context learning task, participants searched for a T among Ls overlaid against natural scenes. The location of the target was either consistently paired with a particular scene or was randomly placed. Participants developed explicit knowledge of the scene-target association and became faster at locating the target on consistently paired trials. Learning occurred earlier for East Asians than European descendents. These results confirmed that East Asians are apparently more contextually driven than European descendents. However, in an implicit visual learning task, we found no difference between cultural groups. Participants searched for a T among Ls and on some trials the locations of the Ls reliably predicted the location of the T. Both groups became faster finding the T on predictive displays than random displays although they were unaware of the association. The magnitude and pace of implicit context learning were comparable between the two groups. We conclude that East Asians are more contextually driven than European descendents in explicit visual learning and memory tasks but not in implicit tasks.
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