Cultural Differences in Perception

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The cultural influence of difference in focus and categorization In the research article, “The influence of culture: holistic versus analytic perception” provided by Richard E. Nisbett and Yuri Miyamoto, there is evidence that perceptual processes are influenced by culture. The research found that Western cultures focus on salient objects and use rules and categorization for purposes of organizing the environment, whereas, East Asian cultures focus more holistically on relationships and similarities among the objects when organizing the environment. In an illustrative study both rural Chinese and American children were shown a picture of a man, a woman, and a baby. The Chinese children tended to group the woman and the baby because of the relationship between the two, a woman takes care of a baby. American children tended to group the man and the woman because they are both adults. The results indicated that culture influences late stages of perception and categorization.

In another study East Asians and European Americans were presented with the Rod-and-Frame Test. In this test a rod or line is shown inside a frame, which can be rotated around the rod. The participants were asked to state when the rod appeared vertical even if the position of the frame was in a different position. The East Asian participants made more errors than the European American participants. This indicated that the East Asians were attending more to the whole field which made it difficult to ignore the frame. It was found that East Asians not only attended more to the field, but they noticed it earlier, remembered more about it, and related the object to the field in memory. Additional evidence that Asians pay more attention to context comes from work by Masuda and Nisbett. They presented American and Japanese participants with two animated pictures of a farm. The two pictures had various small differences in details. Some of the changes differed in focal objects and other changes were...
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