Cultural differences in room size perception

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Abstract

Cultural differences in spatial perception have been little investigated, which gives rise to the impression that spatial cognitive processes might be universal. Contrary to this idea, we demonstrate cultural differences in spatial volume perception of computer generated rooms between Germans and South Koreans. We used a psychophysical task in which participants had to judge whether a rectangular room was larger or smaller than a square room of reference. We systematically varied the room rectangularity (depth to width aspect ratio) and the viewpoint (middle of the short wall vs. long wall) from which the room was viewed. South Koreans were significantly less biased by room rectangularity and viewpoint than their German counterparts. These results are in line with previous notions of general cognitive processing strategies being more context dependent in East Asian societies than Western ones. We point to the necessity of considering culturally-specific cognitive processing strategies in visual spatial cognition research.

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Saulton, A., Bülthoff, H. H., De La Rosa, S., & Dodds, T. J. (2017). Cultural differences in room size perception. PLoS ONE, 12(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176115

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