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Culture shapes eye movements for visually homogeneous objects

Kelly, David J., Miellet, S., Caldara, Roberto (2010) Culture shapes eye movements for visually homogeneous objects. Frontiers in Psychology, 2010 (1). ISSN 1664-1078. (doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00006) (KAR id:70898)

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Culture affects the way people move their eyes to extract information in their visual world. Adults from Eastern societies (e.g., China) display a disposition to process information holistically, whereas individuals from Western societies (e.g., Britain) process information analytically. In terms of face processing, adults from Western cultures typically fixate the eyes and mouth, while adults from Eastern cultures fixate centrally on the nose region, yet face recognition accuracy is comparable across populations. A potential explanation for the observed differences relates to social norms concerning eye gaze avoidance/engagement when interacting with conspecifics. Furthermore, it has been argued that faces represent a ‘special’ stimulus category and are processed holistically, with the whole face processed as a single unit. The extent to which the holistic eye movement strategy deployed by East Asian observers is related to holistic processing for faces is undetermined. To investigate these hypotheses, we recorded eye movements of adults from Western and Eastern cultural backgrounds while learning and recognizing visually homogeneous objects: human faces, sheep faces and greebles. Both group of observers recognized faces better than any other visual category, as predicted by the specificity of faces. However, East Asian participants deployed central fixations across all the visual categories. This cultural perceptual strategy was not specific to faces, discarding any parallel between the eye movements of Easterners with the holistic processing specific to faces. Cultural diversity in the eye movements used to extract information from visual homogenous objects is rooted in more general and fundamental mechanisms.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00006
Uncontrolled keywords: culture, eye movements, face processing
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Depositing User: David Kelly
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2018 13:20 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 04:18 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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