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Stephanie Yoke Ping Chua, Panagiotis Rentzelas, Zoe Kourtzi, Maxine Lintern, Eirini Mavritsaki; The influence of self-construal priming on visual perceptual learning. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):185c. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.185c.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Culture is a dynamic construct composed of a network of diversified, but sometimes paradoxical knowledge structures which can be activated or suppressed according to situational demands (Briley, Wyer, & Li, 2014). The emphasis of independence and personal achievements within individualistic societies have been linked to an increased tendency for analytic thinking, whereas collectivistic societies which emphasize interdependence and group goals have been associated with more holistic thinking styles (Han & Humphreys, 2016). Clearly, adherence to these independent or interdependent values could influence cognitive styles; priming independent self-construal has been found to increase local processing tendencies, while priming interdependence increases global processing (Lin, Lin & Han, 2008). Priming procedures can temporarily shift independent or interdependent self-concepts to reveal the cognitive processes that are modulated by culture. The present study thus aims to identify if there are differences in perceptual learning abilities when specific cultural values are situationally activated. Forty-one British and European students were primed with either independent or interdependent self-construal using Brewer and Gardner’s (1996) pronoun circling task. Participants primed with interdependent self-construal were expected to be better at extracting global forms in the Glass pattern discrimination task than those primed with independence. As predicted, a difference in reaction times was found between both groups during training. Those primed with interdependence made significantly slower responses, and this could be attributed to the additional time needed for perceptual decision-making in accurately identifying feature differences in the stimuli. Those primed with interdependence also had higher performance than those who were independently-primed despite perceptual uncertainties in the stimuli – revealing the increased tendency for global processing when interdependent self-concepts are activated, although the differences were not significant. These findings provide evidence that self-construals can be causally linked to differences in processing styles during visual learning.
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