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Dong-Seon Chang, Uijong Ju, Heinrich Buelthoff, Stephan de la Rosa; How different is Action Recognition across Cultures? Visual Adaptation to Social Actions in Germany vs. Korea. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):493. doi: 10.1167/15.12.493.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The way we use social actions in everyday life to interact with other people differs across various cultures. Can this cultural specificity of social interactions be already observed in perceptual processes underlying the visual recognition of actions? In the current study, we investigated whether there were any differences in action recognition between Germans and Koreans using a visual adaptation paradigm. German (n=24, male=10, female=14) and Korean (n=24, male=13, female=11) participants first had to recognize and describe four different social actions (handshake, punch, wave, fist-bump) presented as brief movies of point-light-stimuli. The actions handshake, punch and wave are commonly known in both cultures, but fist-bump is largely unknown in Korea. In the subsequent adaptation experiment, participants were repeatedly exposed to each of the four actions as adaptors (40 seconds in the beginning, and 3 times before each trial) in separate experimental blocks. The order of actions was mixed and balanced across all participants. In each experimental block, participants had to categorize ambiguous actions in a 2-Alternatives-Forced-Choice task. The ambiguous test stimuli were created by linearly combining the kinematic patterns of two actions such as a punch and a handshake. We measured to what degree each of the four adaptors biased the perception of the subsequent test stimulus for German and Korean participants. The actions handshake, punch and wave were correctly recognized by both Germans and Koreans, but most Koreans failed to recognize the correct meaning of a fist-bump. However, Germans and Koreans showed a remarkable similarity regarding the relative perceptual biases that the adaptors induced in the perception of the test stimuli. This consistency extended even to the action (fist-bump) which was not accurately recognized by Koreans. These results imply a surprising consistency and robustness of action recognition processes across different cultures.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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