Culture and change blindness

  • Masuda T
  • Nisbett R
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Research on perception and cognition suggests that whereas East Asians view the world holistically, attending to the entire field and relations among objects, Westerners view the world analytically, focusing on the attributes of salient objects. These propositions were examined in the change-blindness paradigm. Research in that paradigm finds American participants to be more sensitive to changes in focal objects than to changes in the periphery or context. We anticipated that this would be less true for East Asians and that they would be more sensitive to context changes than would Americans. We presented participants with still photos and with animated vignettes having changes in focal object information and contextual information. Compared to Americans, East Asians were more sensitive to contextual changes than to focal object changes. These results suggest that there can be cultural variation in what may seem to be basic perceptual processes.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Americans
  • Attention
  • Change blindness
  • Change detection
  • Cultural psychology
  • Culture
  • Holistic vs. Analytic thought
  • Japanese

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  • Takahiko Masuda

  • Richard E. Nisbett

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