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Kris Chang, Caren Rotello, Xingshan Li, Keith Rayner; Scene perception and memory revealed by eye movements and ROC analysis: Does a cultural difference truly exist?. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):742. doi: 10.1167/8.6.742.
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A number of studies on scene perception and memory have suggested cultural differences in how people look at scenes and what they remember from the scene: Americans attend more to foreground objects whereas Asians attend more to the context (Chua, Boland & Nisbett, 2005; Masuda & Nisbett, 2001). We investigated the influence of culture by recording eye movements during scene perception, and we also examined memory performance. American and Chinese participants looked at pictures consisting of a focal object in a background context and gave ratings on the degree to which they liked each picture. This encoding phase was followed by a memory test in which the relationship between the focal objects and the contexts was fully crossed (old and new objects were tested in old and new contexts); eye movements were also recorded in the test phase. Participants indicated whether they had seen each focal object in the study phase, using a six-point confidence scale (“sure old” to “sure new”). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) based analyses showed that memory accuracy was reduced when objects were tested in new rather than old contexts; participants were also less willing to say “old” to objects tested in new contexts. However, neither the decrease in accuracy nor the response bias shift differed with culture. The eye movement patterns, including fixation durations and numbers of fixations, were also similar across cultural groups. Both groups made longer fixations, and more of them, on the focal objects than on the contexts; this pattern was observed in both the encoding and test phases. The similarity of eye-movement patterns and recognition memory behavior suggests that both Americans and Chinese use the same strategies in this task (see also Rayner, Li, Williams, Cave, & Well, 2007), in contrast with prior reports.
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