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Gizelle Anzures, Liezhong Ge, Zhe Wang, Shoji Itakura; Differential sociocultural experience moderates latency of facial age judgments. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):511. doi: 10.1167/9.8.511.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous studies show that differential sociocultural experiences shape ones visual perception of the world (Miyamoto, Nisbett, & Masuda, 2006; Nisbett & Miyamoto, 2005). In the present study, we investigated whether adults' visual processing of facial age is also influenced by differential sociocultural experience.
The Japanese culture cultivates respect towards older individuals at a behavioral (e.g., bowing) and linguistic (e.g., using titles such as san) level. The Chinese culture cultivates respect towards the elderly only at the behavioral level. In contrast, no behavioral or linguistic markers for such respect exist in North America.
We tested adults in Japan, China, and Canada (i.e., Asian-Canadians and Caucasians). Participants completed a computerized relative age judgment task, during which they saw 840 trials each showing a pair of Asian faces. Participants were asked to decide which face in each pair was older via a key press. Participants then completed an absolute age judgment task, during which they were shown a sequential presentation of Asian faces and asked to record how old each face looked in years.
We found no group differences in accuracy on the relative and absolute age judgment tasks. However, reaction times on correct trials in the relative age judgment task revealed group differences. Japanese participants were the fastest, followed by the Chinese, then the Asian-Canadians, then the Caucasians. These results are consistent with cross-cultural differences in socialization. Relative to Asian-Americans and Caucasians, Asians living in Asia - especially the Japanese - experience a greater need to make quick age judgments for individuals they encounter so that they can show proper respect. In addition, Asian-Canadians' faster response times relative to Caucasians' response times is likely due to their greater experience with own-race Asian faces. Thus, we provide the first evidence to date that differential sociocultural experience influences our visual processing of facial age.
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