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Yoshiyuki Ueda, Chia-Chun Tsai, Sung-En Chien, Su-Ling Yeh, Jun Saiki; Visual Search Revisited in East Asia: Experience Matters. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):312c. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.312c.
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Compared to the well-known cultural differences in higher-level processes such as thinking and reasoning, there is no consensus on whether lower-level processes such as visual perception and attention can also be different among cultures. One of the reasons is that visual perception and attention tasks have been used in previous studies are more complicated, leading to accumulated errors and contamination of verbal instruction. Using a simple visual search task, Ueda et al. (2018) showed that there are cultural differences in visual search between Caucasians (in the United States and Canada) and East Asians (in Japan); Caucasians showed search asymmetry of shorter/longer line length, whereas East Asians did not. To examine whether this effect can also be observed for East Asians of a different culture, we conducted another series of experiments in Taiwan. East Asians in Taiwan were asked to search either the longer line among 3, 6, or 12 distractors of shorter lines, or vice versa, and judge whether the target was present or not (the same task as in Treisman & Gormican, 1988). The experiment was divided into two sub-sessions, and the target changed between them. The results showed that East Asians in Taiwan showed no difference in search slopes (changes in reaction times as a function of set size) between shorter and longer line search, suggesting that there is no search asymmetry for line length in East Asians in Taiwan, similar to the findings observed for those in Japan. Surprisingly, however, the search for shorter line was significantly faster than that for longer line. Taking the current and previous results together, the pooled-response model proposed by Treisman & Gormican (1988) explaining why search asymmetry is observed should be reconsidered, by taking into account the key component of culturally shaped experiences.
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