August 2023
Volume 23, Issue 9
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2023
Perceptual span can explain stimulus-specific cultural differences in visual search
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jun Saiki
    Kyoto University
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  JSPS KAKENHI (Grant Numbers 19H05736 and 20H00107 to J.S.)
Journal of Vision August 2023, Vol.23, 5191. doi:
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      Jun Saiki; Perceptual span can explain stimulus-specific cultural differences in visual search. Journal of Vision 2023;23(9):5191.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Cultural variability in visual cognition has been accounted for by general concepts such as holistic-analytic processing based on social learning. However, alternative accounts based on interaction with material cultures (such as letter use) are possible. The current study contrasted these two accounts by saliency-map model simulations of recent evidence for stimulus-specific cultural difference in visual search. Recently, Ueda et al. (2018) reported that search asymmetry for line-length, that is, the search for a long line being more efficient than the search for a short line, was observed among American participants, but it disappeared with East Asians. This lack of search asymmetry in East Asians is stimulus-specific, such that asymmetry with tilt-vertical search was significantly stronger with East Asians than Americans. The current study used the Attention based on Information Maximization (AIM) model, that can account for search asymmetry (Bruce and Tsotsos, 2009). and manipulated perceptual span. The holistic-analytic processing account predicts a larger span in East Asians than Americans, while the orthographical system account predicts a smaller span in East Asians than Americans based on reading studies. With the feature set derived from natural images, observed search asymmetry can be accounted for by assuming that perceptual span is larger among Americans than East Asians, which is consistent with the orthographical system account. The simulation also predicts a novel phenomenon of reversed search asymmetry with line-length search, more efficient search with a short line target, with even smaller perceptual span, which is recently observed with Taiwanese participants. These results suggest that stimulus-specific cultural difference in visual search likely reflects differential perceptual span derived from reading experiences, rather than the holistic-analytic processing, which is a dominant view in cultural psychology. The interaction with material culture may be a more important factor to explain cultural variability in visual cognition than previously considered.


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