Monday, August 22, 2005

Abstract of the Day: The Eye of the Beholder

Hannah Faye Chua, Julie E. Boland, & Richard E. Nisbett. Cultural variation in eye movements during scene perception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; 2005. ePub ahead of publication. 10.1073/pnas.0506162102

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, 530 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043

In the past decade, cultural differences in perceptual judgment and memory have been observed: Westerners attend more to focal objects, whereas East Asians attend more to contextual information. However, the underlying mechanisms for the apparent differences in cognitive processing styles have not been known. In the present study, we examined the possibility that the cultural differences arise from culturally different viewing patterns when confronted with a naturalistic scene. We measured the eye movements of American and Chinese participants while they viewed photographs with a focal object on a complex background. In fact, the Americans fixated more on focal objects than did the Chinese, and the Americans tended to look at the focal object more quickly. In addition, the Chinese made more saccades to the background than did the Americans. Thus, it appears that differences in judgment and memory may have their origins in differences in what is actually attended as people view a scene.
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Anthony H. Risser | |

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